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189 1. 

Enter**! according to Act of Congress, in the year 1856, by 

the Clerk s Office of the District Court of the District of Massachuaettc 



introduction. By George R. Noyes. ...... * 

Faith and Science. By M. Guizot 

The Law and the Gospel. By Rev. Baden Powell. ... 27 

The Doctrine of Inspiration. By Dr. F. A. D. Tholuck. 65 

Holy Scripture. By Rev. Rowland Williams. ... 113 
Servants of God speaking as moved by the Holy Ghost. By Rer. 

Rowland Williams .127 

The Spirit and the Letter, or the Truth and the Book. By Rev. 

Rowland Williams. . 147 

On the Causes which probably conspired to produce our Saviour s 

Agony. By Rev. Edward Harwood. 167 

Of our Lord s Fortitude. By Rev. William Newcome. . . "197 

The Doctrine of the Atonement. By Benjamin Jowett. . . 221 

On Righteousness by Faith. By Benjamin Jowett. ... 239 

On the Imputation of the Sin of Adam. By Benjamin Jowett. . 265 

On Conversion and Changes of Character. By Benjamin Jowett. 273 

Casuistry. By Benjamin Jowett. . . . . . 299 

On the Connection of Immorality and Idolatry. By Benjamin 

Jowett .321 

The Old Testament. By Benjamin Jowett 325 

" On the Quotations from the Old Testament in the New. By Benja 
min Jowett 329 

Fragment on the Character of St. Paul. By Benjamin Jowett. . 341 


St. Paul and the Twelve. By Benjamin Jowett. ... 357 

Evils in the Church of the Apostolical Age. By Benjamin Jowett 383 
On the Belief in the Coming of Christ in the Apostolical Age. By 

Benjamin Jowett 393 

The Death of Christ, considered as a Sacrifice. By Kev. James 

Foster. .403 

The Epistles to the Corinthians, in Relation to the Gospel History. 

By Rev. Arthur P. fctanlcy 415 

Apostolical Worship. By Rev. Arthur P. Stanley. ... 437 

The Eucharist. By Rev. Arthur P. Stanley 443 

Unity and Variety of Spiritual Gifts. By Rev. Arthur P. Stanley. 447 
The Gift of Tongues and the Gift of Prophesying. By Rev. Ar 
thur P. Stanley 453 

Love, the greatest of Gifts. By Rev. Arthur P. Stanley. . . 472 
The Resurrection of Christ. By Rev. Arthur P. Stanley. . .477 

The Resurrection of the Dead. By Rev. Arthur P. Stanley. . 482 

On the Credibility of Miracles. By Dr. Thomas Brown. . . 485 

Note A 


THE following collection of Theological Essays 
is designed for students in divinity, Sunday-school 
teachers, and all intelligent readers who desire to gain 
correct views of religion, and especially of the char 
acter, use, and meaning of the Scriptures. It was 
suggested by the recent excellent Commentary on the 
Epistles of Paul by Rev. Mr. Jowett, now Professor of 
Greek in the University of Oxford. Understanding 
that this work was not likely to be reprinted in this 
country, and that the high price of the English edition 
rendered it inaccessible to most readers, it appeared to 
me that a collection of Theological Essays, which 
should include the most important dissertations con 
nected with that Commentary, would be a valuable 
publication. Mr. Jowett seems to me to have pene 
trated more deeply into the views and spirit of Paul, 
and the circumstances under which he wrote, than any 
previous English commentator. Some of the best 
results of his labors are presented in the Essays which 
are now republished in this collection. Mr. Jowett s 
notes might have been more satisfactory in some 
respects if, in addition to other German commen 
taries which he has mentioned, he had made use of 
those of De Wette and Meyer. But no illustrative 
dissertations in any German commentary with which 



we are acquainted are equal in value to those of 
Jowett. His freedom and independence are espe 
cially to be admired in a member of the Church of 
England, and Professor in the University of Oxford. 

In the selection of the dissertations by other writers, 
regard was had partly to their rarity, and partly to 
their intrinsic value, and the light which they throw 
on important subjects which occupy the minds of re 
ligious inquirers at the present day. Three Essays 
are taken from Kitto s Journal of Sacred Literature, 
an English periodical conducted by clergymen of the 
Established Church, of which few copies are circu 
lated in this country. The first, by M. Guizot, the 
eminent writer and statesman of France, presents the 
subject of Faith in an interesting point of view, and 
closes with an admirable lesson on the importance of 
the free discussion of religious subjects. 

The second Essay, by Rev. Baden Powell, an emi 
nent Professor in the University of Oxford, and author 
of several well-known publications, contains an able 
discussion of a very important subject, which appears 
to be now attracting some notice in this country ; 
distinguished divines of the Baptist denomination 
taking the view of Dr. Powell, and some of the Or 
thodox Congregationalists opposing it. The prevalent 
opinion, which regards the Old Testament as an au 
thority in religion and morals equally binding upon 
Christians with the New, appears to me to have had 
a disastrous influence on the interests of the Church 
and the interests of humanity. The history of the 
civil wars of England and Scotland, the early history 
of New England, and the state of opinion at the pres 
ent day on the subjects of war, slavery, punishment 
for religious opinion, and indeed punishment in gen- 


eral, illustrate the noxious influence of the prevalent 
sentiment. A writer in one of the most distinguished 
theological journals in this country has been for some 
time engaged in the vain attempt to prove, in opposi 
tion to the plainest language, that the laws of the 
Pentateuch do not sanction chattel slavery. It was 
not thus that the great champion of the Protestant 
Reformation proceeded, when the authority of the Old 
Testament was invoked to justify immorality. When 
some of his contemporaries were committing unjusti 
fiable acts against the peace and order of the commu- 
lity, and vindicated themselves by appealing to the Old 
Testament, Luther wrote a treatise entitled " Instruc 
tion on the Manner in which Moses is to be read," 
containing the following passage, which, in the clear 
ness and force of its style, might have been imitated 
with advantage by some of his countrymen : " Moses 
^ras a mediator and lawgiver to the Jews alone, to 
whom he gave the Law. If I take Moses in one com 
mandment, I must take the whole of Moses. Moses 
is dead. His dispensation is at an end. He has no 
longer any relation to us. I will accept Moses as an 
instructor, but not as a lawgiver, except where he 
agrees with the New Testament, or with the law of 
nature. When any one brings forward Moses and 
his precepts, and would oblige you to observe them, 
answer him thus : * Go to the Jews with your Moses ! 
I am no Jew. If I take Moses as a master in one 
point, I am bound to keep the whole law, says St. 

Paul. If now the disorganizes say, c Moses has 

commanded it, do you let Moses go," and say, * I ask 
not what Moses has commanded. * But, say they, 
4 Moses has commanded that we should believe in 
God, that we should not take Uis name in vain, that 


we should honor our father and mother, &c. Must 
we not keep these commandments ? Answer them 
thus : * Nature has given these commandments. Na 
ture teaches man to call upon God, and hence it is 
natural to honor God, not to steal, not to commit 
adultery, not to bear false witness, &c. Thus I keep 
the commandments which Moses has given, not be 
cause he enjoined them, but because nature implanted 

them in me. But if any one say, l It is all God s 

word, answer him thus : l God s word here, God s 
\vord there. I must know and observe to whom this 
word is spoken. I must know not only that it is 
God s word, but whether it is spoken to me or to an 
other. I listen to the word which concerns me, &c. 
We have the Gospel. " * I would not be understood 
to maintain every sentiment which Dr. Powell has 
advanced ; but his views in general appear to me not 
only sound, but highly important. 

The Essay on the subject of Inspiration, by Tho- 
luck, is to be found in English only in the same for 
eign journal. The views of a biblical student who 
enjoys so great a reputation among Christians ot 
various denominations in all parts of the world need 
no recommendation. The translation I have carefully 
compared with the original, and found to be made 
with great fidelity and accuracy. 

The three Essays which follow on the use and 
character of the Scriptures are taken from a recent 
volume of sermons, entitled " Rational Godliness," 
by Rev. Rowland Williams, a clergyman and distin 
guished scholar of the Established Church of Eng 
land, having been delivered before the Chancellor and 

* See the passage in Luther s works, or as quoted by Bretschneidcr, 
Dogmatik, Vol. I. p. 181. 


University of Cambridge. They appear to me suffi 
ciently valuable to be reprinted. The writer may be 
thought by some to undervalue external authority, 
while maintaining the rights of intuition and expe 
rience as means of attaining Christian truth. But 
have not many Christians since the time of Paley 
paid too exclusive regard to the former ? It seems to 
me that those who accept the New Testament records 
of miracles as genuine and authentic, will not fail to 
receive from them their due influence, and will be in 
no danger of attaching too great importance to intui 
tive faith and Christian experience. The older the 
world grows, the less must religious faith depend on 
history and tradition, and the more on the power of 
the human soul, assisted by the promised Paraclete, 
to recognize revealed truth by its own light. 

The four Essays which follow relate to the great 
subject of the Atonement by Christ, and are designed 
to establish the true view of it, in opposition to cer 
tain false theories which human speculation has con 
nected with it, dishonorable to the character of God, 
pernicious in their influence on man, and having no 
foundation in the Scriptures or in reason. The Essay 
on the Causes which probably conspired to produce 
our Saviour s Agony, is by a distinguished English 
scholar of the last century, the author of an Introduc 
tion to the New Testament, and of a translation of 
the same, which, though it departs too much from the 
simplicity of the Common Version, is highly creditable 
to the author as a critic and a man of learning. The 
Essay which is here republished is commended by 
Archbishop Newcome in his very valuable observa 
tions, which follow, on substantially the same subject, 
the Fortitude of our Saviour. The two Essays 


appear to me to give a triumphant vindication of the 
character of our Saviour from the charges which have 
been brought against it by unbelievers, and, hypothet 
ical ly, by some Christian divines, founded on certain 
expressions of feeling manifested a short time before 
his death, which his faithful historians have recorded 
for our instruction and consolation. 

It so happens that that part of one of the specula 
tive theories connected with the Christian doctrine of 
atonement which is most repulsive to the feelings of 
many Christians, is absolutely without foundation in 
the Scriptures, or in the faith of the Church for many 
centuries after the death of Christ. I refer to that 
opinion which represents him as receiving supernatu 
ral pain or torture immediately from the hand of God, 
over and above that which was inflicted by human 
instrumentality, or which arose naturally from the 
circumstances in which he, as God s minister for es 
tablishing the Christian religion, was placed, and from 
the peculiar sensibility of his natural constitution. 
The very statement of this theory by some distin 
guished theologians shocks the feelings of many Chris 
tians like the language of impiety. Thus Dr. Dwight 
says : " Omniscience and Omnipotence are certainly 
able to communicate, during even a short time, to a 
finite mind, such views of the hatred and contempt of 
God towards sin and sinners, and of course towards a 
substitute for sinners, as would not only fill its capa 
city for suffering, but probably put an end to its 
existence. In this manner, I apprehend, the chief 
distresses of Christ were produced." * What ideas ! 
The omnipotence and omniscience of God are firnt 

* Dwight s Theology, Vol. II. p. 214. 


called in to communicate a sense of his hatred and 
contempt to a sinless man, and, secondly, the suffer 
ings and even the death of Christ are represented as 
the immediate consequence of his sense of God s 
hatred and contempt ! 

Dr. Macknight, a theologian of considerable celeb 
rity, gives a somewhat different view, bat equally 
appalling. He says: "Our Lord s perturbation and 
agony, therefore, arose from the pains which were 
inflicted upon him bij the hand of God, when he made 

his soul an offering for sin Though Jesus knew 

no sin, God might, by the immediate operation of his 
power, make him feel those pains which shall be the 
punishment of sin hereafter, in order that, by the visi 
ble effects which they produced upon him, mankind 
might have a just notion of the greatness of these 

pains His bearing those pains, with a view to 

show how great they are, was by no means punish 
ment. It was merely suffering." Such is the repre 
sentation of Dr. Macknight, in a treatise entitled 
u The Conversion of the World to Christianity " ! 

In his Institutes,! Calvin undoubtedly represents 
Christ as suffering the pains of hell in the present, 
not the future life. He expressly explains the seem 
ing paradox that Christ should descend into hell before 
his death. 

A recent work by Krummacher, which has been 
industriously circulated in New England, contains a 
representation similar to that of D wight and Mac- 
knio-ht, in lano-uao-e still more horrible. Other recent 

Z3 & O 

writers in New England have sanctioned the same 

* See Macknight, in Watson s Tracts, Vol. V. p. 183. 
t Book II. ch. 16,$ 10, 11. 


Now o this theory a decisive objection is, that it 
has not the least foundation in the Scriptures, and 
that it is Jn fact inconsistent with the general tenor ol 
the New Testament, which speaks of Christ s suffer 
ings in connection with the obvious second causes of 
them, recorded in the history; namely, the reviling and 
persecuting of his enemies, the coldness and desertion 
of his disciples, the dark prospects of his mission,* 
his blood, his death, and the terrible persecution of his 
followers, which were to precede the establishment of 
nis religion. Of the immediate infliction of pain by 
the Deity, over and above what Jewish malice in 
flicted upon him, we find not a word. There is not a 
particle of evidence to show that any of the sufferings 
of Christ were inflicted upon him by any more direct 
or immediate agency on the part of God, than those 
of other righteous men who have been persecuted to 
death in the cause of truth and righteousness. The 
text in Isa. liii. 10, " Yet it pleased the Lord to 
bruise him; he hath put him to grief; when thou 
shalt make his soul an offering for sin," &c., is often 
referred to. But such an application of this text can 
be shown to be wrong in two ways : 1. It can be de 
monstrated, on principles of interpretation universally 
acknowledged, that the " servant of God," in this 
and the preceding chapters, denotes, at least in its 
primary sense, the Jewish church, the Israel of God, 
who suffered on account of the sins of others in the 
time of the captivity at Babylon. 1 cannot, for want 
of space, go into a defence of this view. But I fully 
believe it to be correct, and it is maintained by the 
most unbiassed and scientific interpreters of the Old 

* Luke xviii. 8 ; Matt. xxiv. 24. 


Testament.* 2. The language in question denotes 
no more direct and immediate agency of the Deity, 
than that which is everywhere, both in the Old Tes 
tament and the New, ascribed to the Deity in refer 
ence to the sufferings of the prophets and apostles. 
Comp. Ps. xxxix. 9, 10; Jer. xv. 17, 18; xx. 7, &c.; 
xi. 18, 19 ; Larn. iii. So in the New Testament, if 
St. Paul tells us that Christ was " set forth as a pro 
pitiatory sacrifice," he also says, " For I think that 
God has set forth us the apostles last, as it were 
appointed to death." Indeed, there is no idiom in the 
Scriptures more obvious than that which represents 
all the blessings and afflictions of life, by whatever 
instrumentality produced, as coming from God. 

Modern speculative theologians, not finding in the 
sacred history, or in any Scripture statement, any au 
thority for their supposition of a miraculous suffering 
of torment, inconceivable in degree, inflicted by the 
immediate agency of God upon the soul of Christ, 
resort to mere theory to support their position. If, 
say they, Christ was not enduring " vicarious suffer 
ing," inconceivable in degree, inflicted on his soul by 
the immediate exertion of Almighty power, then it 
follows that he did not bear his sufferings so well as 
many martyrs, so well as " the thieves on the cross," 
so well as " thousands and millions of common mer. 
without God and without hope in the world." f 

Without repeating the explanations of Dr. Harwooc. 

* That the phrase " servant of God " is a collective term, denoting 
the people of God, comprehending the -Jewish nation, or the better part 
of the Jewish nation, that is, the Jewish church, has been maintained by 
such critics as Doderleiti, Rosen mil Her, Jahn, Gesenius, Maurer, Knobel, 
Ewald, Ilitzig ; also by the old Jewish critics, such as Aben Ezra, Jar- 
chi, Abarbanel, and Kimchi, 

T See Stuart on Hebrews, Exc. XI. p. 575. 


and Archbishop Newcome, it may be remarked, 
1. That at best this is only an argument ad C/iristia- 
num. The sceptic and the scoffer are ready to accept 
the statement of the orthodox divine, and to tell him 
that, while the manner in which Christ endured his 
sufferings is matter of history, his way of accounting 
for them is pure theory. 

2. It is very remarkable that the speculative theolo 
gians have not seen that a quality exhibited in such 
perfection by "thousands and millions without God 
and without hope in the world," " by the thieves on the 
cross," and, it might have been added, by any number 
of bloodthirsty pirates and savage Indians, was one the 
absence of which implied no want of moral excellence ; 
that it was a matter of natural temperament, of phys 
ical habits, and of the firm condition of the nervous 
system, rather than of moral or religious character. 
Moral excellence is seen, not in insensibility to pain 
or danger, but in unwavering obedience to duty in 
defiance of pain and danger. The greater sense Jesus 
had and expressed of the sufferings which lay in his 
path, the greater is the moral excellence exhibited in 
overcoming them. In order to satisfy myself of the 
perfection of the character of Jesus, all I wish to 
know is that his obedience was complete ; that his 
grief, fears, and doubts were momentary ; that his 
most earnest expostulations and complaints, if so they 
may be called, were wrung from him by causes which 
are plainly set forth in the sacred history, while he 
was engaged without hesitation, without voluntary 
reluctance, nay, with the most supreme devotion of 
his will, in the greatest work ever wrought for man. 

For my part, I am not ashamed to say, that I have 
a distinct feeling of gratitude, not only for the work 


which Christ performed, but for every expression of 
human feeling, whether of grief, or momentary doubt, 
or fear, or interrupted sense of communion with God, 
which he manifested. I should feel that I was robbed 
of an invaluable treasure of encouragement and con 
solation, if any one expression of feeling, whether in 
his words or otherwise, caused by such sufferings as 
all men, in a greater or less degree, are called to en 
dure, should be blotted from the sacred record. In the 
rnidst of deep affliction, and the fear of deeper, noth 
ing has given me greater support than the repetition 
of the prayer in Gethsemane, once uttered in agony 
of soul, " If it be possible, let this cup pass from me ! 
Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt ! " Now 
I know that " we have not a high-priest which cannot 
be touched with the feeling of our infirmities ; but was 
In all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin." 
3. Those who maintain that the character of Christ 
was imperfect or sinful, unless he received immediate 
ly from the hand of God inconceivably greater suffer 
ings than were occasioned by human instrumentalities, 
and the second causes which are matters of history, 
do not make it clear how by their theory they relieve 
his character from the charges which they have hypo- 
thetically brought against it. If the manner in which 
Christ endured his sufferings was unworthy of him, 
if it was faulty or sinful, if his expressions in 
the garden of Gethsemane, or upon the cross, were 
wrong, then no degree of suffering which the hu 
man imagination can conceive to have been endured 
by him can make them right. Strength of temptation 
can palliate what is wrong, but cannot make it right 
Whatever was the nature of Christ s sufferings, how 
ever great in degree, and however immediately they 


were inflicted by God, still, unless his memory of the 
past, as recorded in the Gospels, was wholly effaced, 
he had greater advantages than other men. He knew 
what testimonials and powers he had received from 
God. He knew that he was the object of Divine love. 
He knew that he had consented to his sufferings, and 
that they were a part of his work ; he had no sense of 
sin to aggravate them ; he knew that they were for 
a short time, and that they were certainly to be fol 
lowed by a glorious resurrection, and by endless bless 
edness for himself and his followers. How then are 
what Dr. Dwight calls " the bitter complaints " of 
Jesus absolutely justifiable on his theory of the nature 
and causes of Christ s sufferings, if not on that view 
which has its basis, not in mere reasoning, but in the 
Scripture history, and which is set forth by Dr. Har- 
wood and Archbishop Newcome in this volume ? 
If all the mental and bodily sufferings naturally caused 
to Jesus by the malice of the Jews, the desertion of 
his disciples, and all the circumstances in which he 
was placed, cannot justify our Saviour s expressions, 
whether in language or otherwise, then no sufferings 
or torments the human imagination can conceive to 
have been immediately inflicted by God can justify 
them. In fact, the knowledge that they were inflicted 
immediately by the hand of God would have a ten 
dency to make them more tolerable. Who would not 
drink the cup certainly known to be presented to his 
lips by the hand of his Almighty Father ? I have no 
difficulty in the case, because I believe all the expres 
sions of Jesus in relation to his sufferings, which have 
been supposed to indicate a want of fortitude, to have 
been momentary, extorted from him by overpowering 
pain of body and mind, 


It is also to be observed, in connection with the 
preceding remarks, that what may be called the rich 
imagination of Jesus, as displayed in the beauty of 
his illustrations and his parables, as well as various 
expressions of strong feeling on several occasions 
in the course of his ministry, indicate an exquisite 
sensibility, which no debasement of sin had ever 

Without anticipating what is said in the excellent 
Essays of Dr. Harwood and Archbishop Newcome, 
I may make one more remark. Injustice seems to me 
to have been done to Jesus by comparing his short 
distress of mind on two or three occasions with what 
may have been as short a composure of some distin 
guished martyrs, Socrates for instance, without 
taking into view the habitual fortitude of Christ. Now 
if any one believes that the feelings which Socrates 
exhibited when he drank the hemlock in prison, as 
described by Plato, were all which entered his mind 
from the time when he incurred the deadly hatred and 
persecution of the Athenians, and that no doubts or 
fears or misgivings occurred to him at any moment, 
in the solitude of his prison or elsewhere, I have only 
to say that his view of what is incident to human 
nature is very different from mine. Would Jesus 
have prayed, an hour before his suffering in Geth- 
semane, that his disciples might have the peace, and 
even the joy, which he possessed, had not the habitual 
state of his feelings been tranquil and composed ? 
Panegyrists have described the bravery with which 
some martyrs have endured their sufferings before the 
eyes of their admirers. Jesus, who suffered not with 
a view to human applause, but to human consolation 
and salvation, was not ashamed or afraid to express 


all which he felt, and his faithful biographers were not 
ashamed or afraid to record it. 

I have intimated that the view of the cause of our 
Saviour s principal sufferings, which I have endeavored 
to oppose, is not found in the Scriptures, nor in the 
general faith of the Church. It is the fruit of com 
paratively modern speculation. For proof of the last 
assertion, I refer to the standard works on the history 
of Christian doctrines. In regard to the principal ut 
terance of our Saviour, to which reference has been 
made in relation to this subject, in the words of the 
first verse of the twenty-second Psalm, I cannot agree 
with those who find in them no expression of anguish 
or tone of expostulation, and who suppose them to 
be cited by our Saviour merely in order to suggest the 
confidence and triumph with which the Psalm ends ; 
but which do not begin before the twenty-second 
verse. Under the circumstances of the case, the 
words appear to have had substantially the same 
meaning when uttered by Christ as when uttered by 
the Psalmist. They should not be interpreted as the 
deliberate result of calm reflection, but as an outburst 
of strong involuntary emotion, forced from our Saviour 
by anguish of body and mind, in the words which 
naturally occurred to him, implying momentary expos 
tulation, or even complaint. But that the interruption 
of the consciousness of God s presence and love was 
only momentary, both in the case of the Psalmist and 
of the Saviour, is evident, first, from the expression, My 
God! my God! repeated with earnestness; secondly, 
from the expressions of confidence in the course of the 
Psalm, which might follow in the mind of Christ as 
well as in that of the Psalmist ; and thirdly, from the 
usage of language, according to which the expression 


u to be forsaken by God " merely means " not to be 
delivered from actual or impending distress." The 
very parallel line in the verse under consideration, 
" Why art thou so far from helping me ? " is, accord 
ing to the laws of Hebrew parallelism, a complete 
exposition of the language, " Why hast thou forsaken 
me ? " So Ps. xxxviii. 21, 22, " Forsake me not, O 
Lord ! O my God, be not far from me ! Make haste 
to help me, O Lord, my salvation ! " Other passages 
are Ps. x. 1, xiii. 1, Ixxiv. 1, Ixxxviii. 14. 

As the historical passages in which Christ expressed 
his feelings under the sufferings which he endured or 
feared, are of great interest, it may be satisfactory to 
many readers if I translate, and place in a note at the 
end of the volume,* the expositions of them given by 
men who are regarded by competent judges of all 
denominations of Christians as standing in the very 
first rank as unbiassed, learned, scientific expositors of 
the Scriptures. De Wette, Liicke, Meyer, Bleek, and 
Liinemann will be admitted by all who are acquainted 
with their writings to stand in that rank. 

After the Essays on the nature and causes ol the 
sufferings of Christ, and the manner in which he bore 
them, I have selected two on the design and influence 
of these sufferings in the atonement which he effected: 
one by that admirable writer, James Foster,! the most 
celebrated preacher of his day, of whom Pope wrote, 

long ago, 

" Let modest Foster, if he will, excel 
Ten metropolitans in preaching well " ; 

and the other by Professor Jowett, of whom I have al 
ready spoken. The two dissertations, taken together, 

* See Note A. 

t By accident this Essay does not appear in its proper place in thia 
rolume, but will be found on page 403. 


appear to me to give a very fair and Scriptural view 
of the Christian doctrine of atonement. 

The great variety of theories which the specula 
tions of Protestants have connected with the Christian 
doctrine of atonement is alone sufficient to show on 
what a sandy foundation some of them rest. As 
sacrifices of blood, in which certain false views of 
Christian redemption had their origin, passed away 
from the world s regard gradually, so one error after 
another has been from time to time expunged from the 
theory of redemption which prevailed at the time of 
the Protestant Reformation. Luther laid it down plain 
ly, that the sins of all mankind were imputed to Christ, 
so that he was regarded as guilty of them and pun 
ished for them. Thus he says : " And this, no doubt, all 
the prophets did foresee in spirit, that Christ should 
become the greatest transgressor, murderer, adulter 
er, thief, rebel, and blasphemer that ever was or could 
be in all the world. For he, being made a sacrifice 
for the sins of the whole world, is not now an innocent 
person and without sin ; is not now the Son of God, 
born of the Virgin Mary; but a sinner, which hath 
and carrieth the sin of Paul, who was a blasphemer, 
an oppressor, and a persecutor ; of Peter, which denied 
Christ ; of David, which was an adulterer, a murder 
er, &c Whatsoever sins I, thou, and we all 

have done, or shall do hereafter, they are Christ s own 

sins as verily as if he himself had done them 

But wherefore is Christ punished ? Is it not because 
he hath sin, and beareth sin ? " * Luther s theory was 
once the prevalent one in the Protestant Church. 

It is also to be observed, as it contributes to 1he 
better understanding of the New England theories 

* Luther cm Gal. iii. 13. 


which prevail at the present day, that the view of 
Luther was at one time almost universal in New 
England. In the year 1650, William Pynchon, a gen 
tleman of learning and talent, and chief magistrate of 
Springfield, wrote a book in which, in the language 
of Cotton Mather, " he pretends to prove that Christ 
suffered not for us those unutterable torments of God s 
wrath which are commonly called hell torments, to 
redeem our souls from them, and that Christ bore 
not our sins by God s imputation, and therefore also 
did not bear the curse of the law for them." 

The General Court of Massachusetts, as soon as 
the book was received from England, where it was 
printed, immediately called Mr. Pynchon to account 
for his heresy, dismissed him from his magistracy, 
caused his book to be publicly burned in Boston mar 
ket, and appointed three elders to confer with him, 
and bring him to an acknowledgment of his error.* 
They also chose Rev. John Norton, of Ipswich, to 
answer his book, after they had condemned all the 
copies of it to be burned, f Mr. Norton s answer is 
now before us, in which he repeats over and over 
again the prevalent doctrine of the time: " Christ 
suffered a penal hell, but not a local ; he descended 
into hell virtually, not locally ; that is, he suffered the 
pains of hell due unto the elect, who for their sin de 
served to be damned." " Christ suffered the essential 
penal wrath of God, which answers the suffering of 
the second death, due to the elect for their sin, before 
he suffered his natural death." " Christ was tor 
mented without any forgiveness ; God spared him 
nothing of the due debt." 

* See Records of Massachusetts Bay, Vol. IV. Part I. pp. 29, 30; 
also Holland s History of Western Massachusetts, Vol. I. p. 37, &c. 
t See Note B. 


Flavel, a Nonconformist clergyman in England, 
whose writings continue to be published by the Amer 
ican Tract Society, and who was contemporaneous 
with John Norton, thus writes : " To wrath, to the 
wrath of an infinite God without mixture, to the very 
torments of hell, was Christ delivered, and that by 
the hands of his own Father." * "As it was all the 
wrath of God that lay upon Christ, so it was his 
wrath aggravated in diverse respects beyond that 
which the damned themselves do suffer." f 

In the Confession of Faith $ owned and consented 
to by the churches assembled in Boston, New Eng 
land, May 12, 1680, and recommended to all the 
churches by the General Court held October 5, 1679, 
is contained the following (Ch. VIII. 4) : " The Lord 

Jesus Christ underwent the punishment due to 

us, which we should have borne and suffered, being 
made sin and a curse for us, enduring most excruciat 
ing torments immediately from God in his soul, and 
most painful sufferings in his body." This was 
copied verbatim into the celebrated Saybrook Plat 
form, adopted by the churches of Connecticut, Sep 
tember 9, 1708. 

Some of the preceding views, for questioning which 
one of the wisest and best men in Massachusetts was 
so much harassed as to feel obliged to leave the 
Commonwealth, are now as universally rejected as 

* Fountain of Life Opened, p. 10, Ser. IV. fol. edit 

t Ibid., p. 106. 

J This Confession was taken, with a few slight variations in conformity 
with the Westminster Confession, from the " Savoy Declaration," that is, 
"A Declaration of the Faith and Order owned and practised in the 
Congregational Churches in England ; agreed upon and consented 
unto by their elders and messengers at the Savoy [a part of London] 
October 12th, 1658," which may be seen in " Hanbury s Historical Me 
morials; p. 532, &c. 



tftey were once received. But the most objectionable 
part of them, in a religious point of view, that which 
supposes supernatural sufferings or tortures to have 
been immediately inflicted by the Deity upon the soul 
of Christ, is still retained by many. The late Pro 
fessor Stuart, as we have seen, supported this view on 
the ground that the character of Christ for fortitude 
would otherwise suffer. Many of the books indus 
triously circulated by the Orthodox sects among the 
laity contain the doctrine in a very offensive form. 
The Assembly s Catechism, which declares that Christ 
endured the wrath of God," evidently in the sense 
of Norton and Flavel, is scattered by thousands 
among the people, and made the standard of faith 
in the principal theological school of this Common 
wealth. Vincent, whose explanation of the Assem 
bly s Catechism has just been republished by the 
Presbyterian Board of Publication, says : " He, to 
gether with the pain of his body on the cross, endured 
the wrath of God, due for man s sin, in his soul." 

With the progress of intellectual and moral philos 
ophy, however, the doctrine of the imputation of sin 
to one who had not committed it, came to be held as 
a mere fiction by many, who yet retained that part of 
the old doctrine which maintains that Christ bore the 
punishment of the sins of all mankind. This view 
avoids the now evident fiction involved in charging 
the sins of the guilty upon the innocent ; but it has 
no advantage over Luther s doctrine in reference to 
the character of the Deity. Luther s theory paid so 
much homage to the natural sentiments of justice in 
the human soul, as to make the attempt, though a 
vain one, to reconcile the conduct which his theology 
ascribed to God with those sentiments. Luther, with 


John Norton and others of his school, felt as strongly 
as any Unitarian of the present day, that, where there 
is punishment, there must be guilt, and an accusing 
conscience.* They held, therefore, that Christ was 
punished because he was guilty, and " sensible of an 
accusing conscience." But the more modern theory, 
which holds that Christ bore the punishment of all 
men s sins without bearing their guilt, involves the 
idea of punishment without guilt in him who suffers 
it. It takes away the hypothesis which alone gave it 
even the show of consistency with the justice of God. 
The perception of the incongruity involved in the 
supposition that one should receive punishment who 
is without guilt, has therefore led many theologians 
to give up this part of the old theory. It was aban 
doned by many in England as long ago as the time 
of Baxter. In New England, since the time of Dr. 
Edwards the younger, several theological writers have 
maintained that, as there can be no punishment with 
out a sense of guilt and condemnation of conscience, 
but only pain, suffering, torment, it is erroneous to say 
that Christ endured vicarious punishment for the sins 
of mankind. Vicarious pain or torment might be en 
dured by the innocent, but not vicarious punishment. 
Some, also, on the ground that the sufferings of Christ 
bear no proportion, in amount and duration, to the 
punishment which was threatened against sinners, 
have even rejected the term vicarious as inapplicable. 
Dr. Dwight says : " It will not be supposed, as plainly 
it cannot, that Christ suffered in his divine nature. 
Nor will it be believed that any created nature could 
in that short space of time suffer what would be 
equivalent to even a slight distress extended through 

* See Norton s Answer, &c. p. 119. 


eternity." * When, therefore, we are told that it 
pleased Jehovah to bruise him, it was not as a punish 
ment." f It is not true," says Edwards the younger, 
" that Christ endured an equal quantity of misery to 
that which would have been endured by all his people, 

had they suffered the curse of the law As the 

eternal Logos was capable of neither enduring misery 
nor losing happiness, all the happiness lost by the 
substitution of Christ was barely that of the man 
Christ Jesus, during only thirty-three years ; or rather 
during the last three years of his life." f Dr. Em- 
mons says : " His sufferings were no punishment, 
much less our punishment. His sufferings were by 
no means equal in degree or duration to the eternal 
sufferings we deserve, and which God has threatened 
to inflict upon us. So that he did in no sense bear 
the penalty of the law which we have broken, and 
justly deserve." 

Bat this concession of the more modern New Eng 
land theologians to the imperative claims of reason i s 
not of so much importance as it may at first view 
appear. To say that Christ did not endure the punish 
ment of the sins of mankind, nor indeed any punish 
ment whatever, but only an amount of suffering or 
torment which, in its effect as an expression of the Di 
vine mind, and in upholding the honor of the Divine 
government, was an equivalent to the infliction of the 
punishment threatened against sin, is of little avail, 
so long as it is maintained that the chief sufferings of 
our Saviour were of a miraculous character, incon 
ceivable in degree, immediately inflicted upon him by 

* Ser. LVL Vol. II. p. 217. 

t Ibid., p. 211. 

\ Sermons on the Atonement, Works, Vol. II. p. 43. 

t Works, Vol. V. p. 32. 


the hand of God over and above those which he in 
curred from human opposition and persecution in the 
accomplishment of his work. The concession is made 
to philosophy, not to religion. So far as the Divine 
character is concerned, it is of little consequence 
whether you call the sufferings of Christ punishment^ or 
only torture immediately inflicted by God for the mere 
purpose of being contemplated by intelligent beings. 

Suppose that Christ had ordered the beloved Apos 
tle John to be crucified, in order to show his dis 
pleasure at sin, when he forgave Peter, of what conse 
quence would it be to say that John was not punished, 
but only tortured, for the sin of Peter? Would 
Christ deserve the more to be regarded as a righteous 
being, an upholder of law, a wise moral governor, for 
inflicting inconceivable anguish of body and mind 
upon John as the sole ground and condition of forgiv 
ing the sin of Peter ? 

How many of the theologians of New England at 
the present day retain this theory of miraculous suf 
fering immediately inflicted by the Deity upon the 
soul of Christ, I have no means of ascertaining. It 
is not easy to see why the advocates of the govern 
mental theory, after admitting that the sufferings of 
Christ were finite and of brief duration, that they 
were not the punishment, nor, as a penalty, equivalent 
to the punishment, of the sinner, should seek by mere 
ratiocination to magnify the sufferings of Christ be 
yond what the sacred history has recorded them to be, 
and to bring in the omnipotence and the omniscience 
of the Deity to inflict a pain which human malice and 
second causes could not inflict. The mere amount 
of suffering does not seem to be essential to this 
theory. The Scriptures contain, as we have seen, 


nothing for it. On the contrary, they seem to be 
positively against it, in insisting, as they do, on the 
Hood of Christ, the death of Christ as a sacrifice, 
rather than on what he suffered before he died. It is 
just to state that I do not find, in the sermons on the 
atonement by Dr. Edwards the younger, Dr. Em- 
mons, and Dr. Woods, reference to any sufferings of 
Christ, except those which were naturally incident to 
the discharge of his duty. True, they say nothing 
against the view held by Dr. Dwight, Dr. Macknight, 
and some recent writers. But it is to be hoped that 
they omitted the theory of miraculous suffering, im 
mediately inflicted by the Deity upon the soul of 
Christ, because they had abandoned it. May the 
time soon come when all the advocates of the govern 
mental theory shall cease to insist on a fragment of 
the old theory of penal satisfaction, which has no his 
torical foundation, which is shocking to the feelings 
of many Christians, and strengthens the objections of 
the enemies of Christianity. 

On the other hand, it appears to me that some 
writers, looking at the subject chiefly in the light of 
the principles of moral and religious philosophy, have 
given a somewhat imperfect view of the sentiments 
of St. Paul respecting the significance of the death 
of Christ, by maintaining that he limited the influence 
of it to its immediate effect in producing the refor 
mation and sanctifi cation of the sinner. This latter 
view is indeed prominent throughout the Apostle s 
writings. Christians are represented as being bap 
tized to the death of Christ ; that is, to die to sin as he 
died for it ; to be buried in baptism to sin, and to rise 
to a new spiritual life, as he was buried and rose to a 
new life. But the Apostle regards the death of Christ, 


not only as exerting a sanctifying influence upon the 
heart, but as having a meaning and significance, con 
sidered as an event taking place under the moral 
government of God, according to his will. Its mean 
ing serves, according to him, at the same time to 
manifest the righteousness of God, and his mercy in 
accepting the true believer. " Whom in his blood, 
through faith, God has set forth as a propitiatory sacri 
fice, in order to manifest his righteousness on account 
of his passing by, in his forbearance, the sins of 
former times."* It is true that the design of this 
providential event was still manifestation, and that the 
contemplation of the sacrifice, and the appropriation 
of it by faith, were regarded by the Apostle as leading 
to repentance and s a notification, as well as to peace 
of mind. But he contemplates it in this passage 
under another aspect. He has what may be called a 
transcendental, as well as a practical, view of this, as 
of all events. He contemplates the death of Christ, 
taking place according to God s will, as illustrating 
the mind of God ; as manifesting his righteousness, 
though he forbore adequately to punish the sins of 
former times, and in mercy accepted as righteous the 
true Christian believer. His view seems to be that 
God, by suffering such a person as Jesus, standing in 
such a relation to him, having a sinless character, and 
sustaining such an office in relation to the world as 
Christ did, to suffer and die a painful and ignomin 
ious death, has declared how great an evil he regards 
sin to be, and how great a good he regards holiness 
to be ; in other words, his hatred of sin, and love of 
holiness. The greatness of the evil of sin, and of the 

* Horn. ill. 25. 


good of righteousness, are to be seen in the greatness 
of the sacrifice which God, in his high providential 
government of the world, appointed, and which in the 
fulness of time Christ made. Why is not this view 
of St. Paul correct ? God is surely to be seen, not 
only in the works of nature, in the intuitions of the 
soul, in immediate revelation, but also in the events 
of Providence. Especially the fact, that under the 
moral government of God the most righteous men, 
those in whom the spirit of Gcd dwells most fully and 
most constantly, are willing to incur reproach and suf 
fering in the cause of truth, righteousness, and human 
happiness, shows that the Giver of the Holy Spirit, the 
Source of all righteousness, regards sin as a great evil, 
and righteousness as a great good ; that is, hates sin, 
and loves holiness. Much more, then, if Christ, in 
whom was the spirit of "God without measure, who 
knew no sin, and who was in various ways exalted 
above the sons of men, becomes, according to the will 
of God, and by his own consent, a sacrifice for sin, 
does he illustrate his Father s hatred of sin, and love 
of holiness. 

It appears to me that Edwards the younger, and 
other advocates of what is called the governmental 
theory, have connected with the view of the Apostle 
Paul two great errors. One consists in regarding that 
as the direct and immediate design of the death of 
Christ which was only incidental to it, as a providen 
tial event. This appears from the fact that the death 
of Christ is everywhere in the New Testament de 
nounced as an evil and a crime. Of course, then, it 
was opposed to the direct revealed will of God. 
Everywhere in the New Testament we may learn 
that the direct design of God in sending his Son waa 


that the Jews, as well as others, should reverence him. 
" This is my beloved Son, hear ye him." " lie that 
honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father." 
" Woe unto that man by whom the Son of man is 
betrayed." It is admitted by all, that the direct will 
of God is declared in his commands rather than in his 
providence. Unless the Jews had acted against the 
will of God, it could not be said that by " wicked 
hands " they had crucified and slain the Saviour. 
But when, instead of hearing and reverencing Christ, 
they persecuted and crucified him, this event was 
overruled by Divine Providence, so as to convey a re 
ligious lesson concerning the attributes of God, and 
his government of the world. There is no more evi 
dence that the Jews were instigated by God to crucify 
Christ, than to kill any prophet who had preceded 
him. There is no more evidence that this was ac 
cording to the will of God, than any murder which 
ever took place. The Apostle Paul undoubtedly de 
clares that Christ gave himself for us according to the 
will of God (Gal. i. 4) ; and that God had set him 
forth as a propitiatory sacrifice to manifest his right 
eousness (Rom. iii. 25). But he uses similar language 
in regard to many other events. Thus he declares 
that Pharaoh, the tyrant, was raised up to make 
known the power of God. (Rom. ix. 17.) But will it 
be pretended that God gave existence and power to 
Pharaoh for the direct and exclusive purpose of mak 
ing known his power, and that his power could not 
be made known in any other way ? Was it not the 
will of God that Pharaoh should be a just and beneh- 
cent sovereign ? It is evident from the nature of the 
case, as well as from the current phraseology of the 
Scriptures, that the treachery of Judas, and the cruci- 


fixion of Christ, were not more immediately ordained 
by God, than any other case of treachery and murder 
which ever took place in the world. It is plain, then, 
that the manifestation of the righteousness of God by 
the sacrifice of Christ, referred to by St. Paul, was the 
incidental or indirect design of it, as an event taking 
place under the government of God, against his re 
vealed will. The crucifixion of Christ declares the 
righteousness of God, just as the wrath of man in all 
cases is caused to praise him. 

That the manifestation of the righteousness of God 
was onlv the incidental design of the sacrifice of 
Christ, appears also from this circumstance, that it is 
only when so regarded that it conveys to a rational 
mind an impression either of his righteousness or his 
wisdom. That God should so love the world as to 
send Christ to enlighten, reform, and bless it, though 
he foresaw that he would not accomplish his purpose 
without falling a sacrifice to human passions, gives 
an impression of his benevolence, and of his hatred 
of sin and love of holiness. But if he had imme 
diately and directly commanded the Jewish priests to 
sacrifice him, or the Jewish rulers to insult, torture, 
and crucify him, simply that as an object of human 
contemplation he might manifest the righteousness 
of God, and his hatred of sin by his infliction of tor 
ture on an innocent being, then no such effect would 
be produced by it. The Jewish priests themselves 
would have said that such a sacrifice was heathenish, 
an offering such as the Gentiles used to make to 
Moloch. All the world would say, that such a God- 
commanued sacrifice, such a direct and immediate 
infliction of suffering by the Almighty upon a n inno 
cent being, for the main purpose of making known his 


dispositions, and maintaining the honor of his govern 
ment, was a manifestation of any attribute rather 
than righteousness. We might believe an express 
verbal declaration, that such a direct infliction was 
designed to show God s righteousness; but in the 
fact itself of such torture, one could perceive neither 
righteousness nor wisdom. This may be clearly illus 
trated by an example. 

If a human sovereign, the emperor of Russia for in 
stance, being engaged in war with a rebellious prov 
ince, and having a son distinguished by military 
skill, courage, and humanity above all his subjects, 
should send him at the head of an army, and expose 
him to all the casualties of war, in order to bring the 
province into submission, and this son should actually 
suffer death through the opposition of the rebels, who 
would not admire the self-denial and benevolence ex- 
nibited by the monarch ? 

Suppose now, on the other hand, that the rebels 
should, by the labors and sacrifices of that son, have 
been brought to repentance and submission, and 
should humbly sue for pardon, and that the monarch 
should say, " I will forgive you, but in order to express 
my feelings concerning the crime of rebellion, and to 
uphold the honor of my government, and maintain 
the cause of order, I must, as the condition of the for 
giveness of your crime, inflict inconceivable anguish 
of mind and body upon- my well-beloved son in the 
sight of all my subjects," and should actually do it 
with his own hands, would not the whole civilized 
world condemn such a monarch as guilty of injustice, 
cruelty, and folly? The consert of the son, could it 
be obtained, would only serve to deepen the cruelty 
and folly of the father. 


The incidental effect of the sufferings of the Apostles 
is spoken of as designed, as expressly as that of the 
sufferings of Christ. Thus St. Paul says, " Wheth 
er we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and 
salvation." * Again, " Yea, and if I be offered up 
upon the sacrifice and service of your faith," f &c. 
Again, he speaks of himself as " filling up what is 
wanting of the sufferings of Christ," J thus implying 
that his own sufferings had the same general purpose 
as those of his Master. Again, the casting away of 
the Jews is reoresented by Paul in one verse as the 
reconciling or atonement of the world ; in another, as 
the punishment of the Jews for their unbelief. 

It is readily conceded that a greater prominence, 
importance, and influence are assigned by Paul and 
other New Testament writers to the sacrifice of Christ, 
than to that of other righteous men. This is owing 
in part to his pre-eminent character, his supernatural 
powers and qualifications, the dignity of his office as 
head of the Church, and to the peculiar circumstances 
of his life and death. He had a greater agency than 
others in the work of the Christian atonement, of 
which, however, the Apostles were yet ministers. || 
He was the head of the Church. 

The minds and feelings of the Apostles must have 
been in the highest degree affected by the ignominious 
death of their Master. It was the subject of the 
deepest gratitude that the blessings which they en 
joyed were purchased by his blood. They had lost all 
hopes when he expired. His death was opposed to 
all their views of the Messiah. They had supposed 
that he would live for ever, ^f This expectation was 

* 2 Cor. i. 6. t Phil. ii. 17. t Col. i. 24. Eom. xi. 15, 20. 
g*2 Cor. v. 18- t See John xii. 34 ; Matt. xvi. 28, 


probably not wholly effaced from their minds till they 
saw him expire. When they preached the Gospel to 
the Gentiles, they preached the religion of one who 
bad suffered like the vilest malefactor. The circum- 
f tance that the death of Christ was so ignominious 
was a strong reason for their insisting upon it the 
more, as the means through which they enjoyed the 
blessings of Christianity. The cross was a stum 
bling-block to the Jew, and folly to the Gentile. The 
oftener objections were made to it, the more would 
+he Apostles be led to dwell upon it, and to present it 
in every light in which it could be presented. In re 
flecting upon the meaning of it as a providential 
event, the analogy between it and the sin-offerings of 
the Jews struck their imaginations forcibly. Certain 
passages in the prophetic writings, especially Isa. liii., 
which was originally spoken of the Jewish Church, 
were adapted to impart additional emphasis to this 

It is also very possible that I may have too closely 
defined the meaning of Paul and other Apostles, in 
representing the death of Christ as a sacrifice. This 
idea having once taken full possession of their imagi 
nations, they may not always have kept in mind the 
boundary which divides figurative from plain lan 
guage. They may have connected certain sacrificial 
ideas or feelings with the death of Christ, which a 
modern cannot fully appreciate, or strictly define. 
Being born Jews, familiar with sacrifices from their 
infancy, and writing to those who, whether Jews or 
Gentiles, had been accustomed - to attach the same 
importance and efficacy to them, it was natural that 
they should represent the death of Christ in language 
borrowed from the Jewish ritual, and that they shoujd 


attach an importance to it which savors more of the 
religion which they had renounced, than of that 
which they had adopted. But so far as the question 
whether the atonement by Christ was effected by vica 
rious punishment, or vicarious suffering, is concerned, 
it is of no consequence how much importance the 
Apostles attached to the sacrificial view. For there is 
no reason to believe that in literal sacrifices vicarious 
punishment, or suffering, was denoted, or that the pain 
endured by the animals offered had anything to do 
with their efficacy or significance.* 

The other error in the theory of Edwards the 
younger, and other advocates of the governmental 
theory, consists in representing the sufferings of Christ 
as absolutely necessary, as the ground of forgiveness, 
in the nature of things, or in the nature of the Divine 
government, or on account of the Divine veracity in 
reference to the declaration, The soul that sinneth, it 
shall die. Now in regard to this last consideration, 
that of the Divine veracity, it is certain that the threat 
ened penalty of transgression is no more executed 
when the sinner is forgiven in consequence of severe 
suffering inflicted upon Christ, than if he were for 
given, without such an infliction, in consequence of 
the eternal mercy of God. For the penalty was 
never threatened except against the sinner. Of course 
it can never be executed except upon the sinner. 

It has also been maintained by the advocates of the 
governmental theory, that to forgive sin on any other 
ground than that of the infliction of suffering upon 
Christ, equivalent, in the impression produced by it, 
to the eternal punishment of all the wicked, would 

* See Christian Examiner for September, 1855, 


operate as encouragement of wickedness. But it is 
not easy to see why those who would be encouraged 
in sin by the hope of being forgiven through the eter 
nal mercy of God, would not also be encouraged in 
sin by the hope of being forgiven through the suffer 
ing inflicted upon Christ, or through any consideration 
founded on past historical fact. The forgiveness is 
certain to him who repents and becomes a righteous 
man on either theory, and may encourage an evil- 
minded person in one case as well as the other. 
He who can harden himself in sin in consequence of 
the infinite mercy of God in forgiving the penitent, 
can do the same thing in consequence of the exceed 
ing love of Christ as manifested in his death. 

That the advocates of some of the old theories 
should maintain the absolute necessity of vicarious 
suffering, does not appear strange. But that the ad 
vocates of the governmental theory should maintain 
its absolute necessity as the condition of the forgive 
ness of sin, so that the Divine mercy could not be 
exercised, and the honor of the Divine government 
maintained without it, is surprising. Having denied 
that the sufferings "of Christ are in any sense the 
punishment of the sins of men, or that they are in 
any sense penal in their nature, it is singular that 
they should believe them to be absolutely necessary 
in order to vindicate the righteousness of God, and 
cause his government to be respected, so that, without 
these sufferings as a condition, the mercy of God 
could not and would not have been exercised in the 
forgiveness of sin. What ! Have men no reason to 
believe in the righteousness of God, and to respect 
his moral government, unless they can be convinced 
of the historical fact that he immediately and directly 


caused inconceivable sufferings to Christ, as the indis 
pensable ground of his forgiving a single sin ? Have 
the unnumbered millions of the human race, who 
never heard of Christ, and yet believe in the forgive 
ness of sins, no reason to have faith in the righteous 
ness of God, and to respect his moral government ? 
Have the instinctive faith of the human soul in all 
the perfections of God, the condemnation of sin in 
the conscience, the retributions of Divine Providence, 
the intimations of a judgment to come in the human 
heart and in Divine revelation, no force to convince 
men that God hates sin and loves holiness, though he 
be long-suffering and ready to forgive ? Would all 
these considerations lose their force with one who 
should believe that God could forgive a penitent, 
thoroughly regenerated transgressor for his own eter 
nal mercy s sake alone ? Cannot a father forgive a 
penitent son, without conveying the impression that 
he is pleased with sin ? 

It has been alleged by Edwards the younger, and 
others, that the very fact of the sufferings and death 
of Christ as means of manifesting the righteousness 
of God, and maintaining the honor of his government, 
implies their absolute necessity; because otherwise 
they would not have been allowed by the Deity to 
take place. I am wholly unable to perceive on what 
principle the mere occurrence of the crucifixion of 
Christ by the Jews shows its absolute necessity, more 
than the occurrence of the murder of any prophet or 
apostle shows its absolute necessity. But it will not 
be pretended that the purposes of God in the renova 
tion of the world could not have been accomplished 
unless Stephen had been stoned to death, and James 
beheaded, and Peter crucified, however great may 


have been the actual influence of these cases of mar 
tyrdom in the regeneration of the world. Indeed, to 
argue the absolute necessity of the sacrifice of Christ 
from the fact of its actual occurrence, is to argue the 
absolute necessity of every murder that ever occurred 
in the world. Of course no one has ever denied the 
necessity of the sufferings of Christ in the same gen 
eral sense in which the sufferings of all righteous men 
are necessary, or in which all the evil in the world is 
necessary. Bishop Butler, in the fifth chapter of Part 
Second of his Analogy, has shown that by the stripes 
of righteous men in general, under the government of 
God, the people are often healed ; and of course that 
Christ might suffer in a similar way, and for similar 
ends. But he did not attempt to find anything on 
earth analogous to the theories on which I have been 
remarking. If he had made the attempt, he would 
have found such analogy only in the practice of the 
most barbarous Oriental despots. It appears to me 
that he is guilty of a gross violation of the common 
use of language when he says, that " vicarious pun 
ishment is a providential appointment of every day s 
experience." No one has ever doubted or denied the 
vicarious punishment of Christ in the sense in which 
vicarious punishment is matter of every day s expe 
rience. Every Unitarian, every Deist, would accept 
such a creed. But this paradoxical use of language 
has been generally rejected and condemned by mod 
ern theological writers of every name.* It serves 
only to confound things which differ. 

Dr. Edwards and others have also argued the ne 
cessity of the sacrifice of Christ from the ancient 
sacrifices of the Jews. But as there was no absolute 

* See pp. xxiv, xxv. 


necessity foi these sacrifices of animals, as they 
were of human origin, and only tolerated, or at most 
sanctioned, by the Deity, of course there could be 
no absolute necessity for the sacrifice of Christ; though 
when it was made, its good effects might be pointed 
out by the Apostle glancing his eye of faith over the 
events which took place under the government of 
God. As to the verse, " Without shedding of blood, 
there was no remission," the meaning is, that under 
the actual dispensation of the Jewish law, as per 
mitted or appointed by God, there was no remission 
without a sacrifice.* The remark has no relation to 
the nature of things, or to the absolute necessity of 
the Divine government, but only to a usage which 
had passed away. 

Some passages from the New Testament have also 
been adduced for the purpose of proving that the 
sacrifice of Christ was absolutely necessary, as the 
ground of Divine forgiveness, in the nature of things, 
or of the Divine government ; such as Luke xxiv. 26, 
" Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and 
to enter into his glory ? " Also verse 46, " It behoved 
Christ to suffer," &c. But it is evident that the neces 
sity here referred to by Christ arises simply from that 
of the fulfilment of prophecy. That he did not con 
sider them absolutely necessary, is evident from his 
prayer to have the cup pass from him. See New- 
come s remarks, pages 207, 210 of this volume. 

Allowing, as we have done, that the sacrifice of 
Christ incidentally illustrates the righteousness as 
well as the love of God, its absolute necessity as a 
ground of Divine forgiveness is not more evident from 

* On the subject of the Jewish sacrifices, in their bearing on the work 
of Christ, see Christian Examiner for September, 1855, 


any language of Scripture, than the absolute necessity 
of such a tyrant and oppressor as Pharaoh. For the 
Apostle adopts similar language respecting Pharaoh : 
" Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, 
that I might show my power in thee, and that my 
name might be declared throughout all the earth." 
Will it be pretended that the power and the name of 
Jehovah could not have been made known except by 
raising up just such a tyrant as Pharaoh ? The Apos 
tle is quite as explicit in declaring the design of the 
exaltation of Pharaoh to be that of manifesting the 
power of God, as in declaring the design of the sacri 
fice of Christ to be that of manifesting the righteous 
ness of God. 

My general conclusion is, that the Apostle Paul 
considers the death of Christ under two aspects : 1. 
He regards it as an event taking place under the prov 
idence of God, and according to the Divine will, and 
in some sense a sacrifice incidentally manifesting the 
righteousness of God in connection with the exercise 
of his mercy. See Rom. iii. 21 - 26. 2. He regards 
it in its immediate moral and religious influence upon 
the heart and life of the believer. See Rom. vi., vii., 
&c. He does not appear to regard it as an indispen 
sable evidence of the Divine righteousness, without 
which it could not be seen, but only as a new and 
signal illustration of it in connection with his mercy. 
The latter view is the most prevalent. The first 
view relates to the enlightening influence of Chriut a 
death ; the second to its sanctifying influence. In 
both cases the influence of it is upon God s sub 
jects, not upon God himself. Perhaps both views 
are united in the text, " He made him who knew no 
sin to suffer as a sinner in our behalf, that we through 


him might attain the righteousness which God will 

I have preferred, for obvious considerations, to dis 
cuss the subject in the light of Scripture rather than 
of mere reason. But in regard to the sufficiency of 
the governmental theory to satisfy the reason, I cannot 
forbear quoting a few lines from a recent Orthodox 
writer, the author of the Sermon on the Atonement 
in the Monthly Religious Magazine, which has re 
ceived some attention among us. " How could the 
suffering of one human being, either in amount, or as 
an expression of God s feelings towards his law, sin, 
and holiness, be equivalent to the eternal punishment 
of the wicked, to the smoke of their torment ascend 
ing for ever? The suffering of one created being for 
a few days or years would be, in comparison, as a 

drop to an ocean We are quite familiar with 

the answer which is made to reasoning of this kind, 
with the argument, that the union of the Divine na 
ture with the human gave a boundless dignity and 
worth to the sufferings of that human nature, though 
having no part in them. But we are constrained to 
say, that it never commended itself to our judg 
ment, or gave us the least satisfaction. We cannot 
see how the Divine nature had, we think we see that 
it had not, any share in the atonement, if it had no 
share in the sacrifice which constituted it ; nor how it 
could give dignity and worth to sufferings by which 
it was entirely unaffected. We have heard illustration 
after illustration upon this point ; but to our mind it 
is like sailing in the face of the wind." f These re 
marks are the plain dictates of common sense. I have 

* 2 Cor. v. 21. 

t See the New Englander for July, 1847, p. 432. 


no doubt that the time will come when the doctrine 
that a clear perception of the righteousness of God 
absolutely depended on the sufferings " of the man 
Christ Jesus during only thirty years, or rather during 
the last three years of his life," * will be regarded with 
greater wonder than the doctrine of Luther and Fla- 
vel and John Norton now is. 

There are some other differences of opinion among 
New England theologians, which it will be sufficient 
only to mention. Thus, while some limit the suffer 
ings necessary for the atonement to the death of 
Christ, others take in those of his whole life. Again, 
while some suppose his sufferings to have been only 
such as were inflicted by the instrumentality of man, 
and arose naturally out of his peculiar circumstances 
and character, others regard his chief sufferings as 
miraculous, inflicted by the immediate hand of God, 
independent of those inflicted by human instrumen 

There is also a great difference of opinion among 
the New England theologians as to what constituted 
tne atonement. Even among those who have rejected 
the doctrine of the imputed righteousness of Christ, 
some make the perfect obedience of Christ a constitu 
ent part of it ; others not. Dr. Dwight and some 
recent writers have maintained, with much earnest 
ness, that the obedience of Christ is an essential oart 
of it. But Dr. Jonathan Edwards the younger, who 
seems to be followed by the majority, writes : " I 
venture to say further, that not only did not the atone 
ment of Christ consist essentially in his active obe 
dience, but that his active obedience was no part of 
his atonement, properly so called, nor essential to it" f 

* Edwards the younger. See Works, Vol. II. p. 43. 
t Works, Vol. fl. p 41. 


On the other hand, the most distinguished New 
England writer in the Baptist denomination, Dr. Way- 
land, has expressed the opinion, that the perfect obe 
dience of Christ was all that was essential to the 
atonement. " In what manner did Christ s appearing 
on earth have any effect upon our moral relations ? 
To this various replies have been presented. It has 
been said that his unparalleled humiliation, or his 
lowly and painful life, his bitter death, were of the 
nature of a suffering of the penalty of the law. I, 
however, apprehend that this explanation has not al 
ways been satisfactory to those who have borne in 
mind the character of the law which we have violated, 
and the awful holiness of the Being against whom 
we have sinned. Besides, the sufferings of Christ, 
considered by themselves, were not severer, nor was 
his death itself more excruciating, than that of many 
martyrs, confessors, and missionaries. ...... His obe 
dience had been so transcendent in virtue, he had so 
triumphantly vanquished all our spiritual enemies, and 
put to shame all the powers of darkness, that I know 
not whether anything more was demanded. * The 
Lord was well pleased for his righteousness sake [his 
obedience], for he had magnified the law and made it 
honorable. That this was the case would seem prob 
able, because there is no reference in the Scriptures to 
his suffering after death." * 

There is also a difference of opinion among New 
England theologians as to the question whether the 
Divine, or only the human, nature of Jesus suffered 
and lied. Thus a recent writer, the Rev. Mr. Dutton, 
whose Sermon on the Atonement has been thought 
worthy of being republished in the Boston Monthly 

* Way land s University Sermons, pp. 147, 160. 


Religious Magazine, maintains the former opinion, 
an opinion which strikes me as not only unchristian, 
but atheistic in its tendency. In the language of 
Paul, it changes " the glory of the incorruptible God 
into an image made like to corruptible man." It is 
but just to say, however, that this view has found 
very few advocates. All the distinguished New 
England theologians, such as Hopkins, Edwards the 
younger, Dwight, Emmons, Woods, and others, limit 
the sufferings of Christ to his human nature.* Nor 
has a different opinion ever found its way, so far as I 
know, into the confession of faith of any church in 
Christendom. John Norton undoubtedly gave the 
orthodox or generally received opinion on this point 
when he wrote, " The second person of the Trinity, 

together with the Father and the Holy Ghost, 

did inflict the torments of hell upon the human na 
ture." f 

The dissertations selected from the Commentary on 
St. Paul s Epistles by Mr. Jowett are those which 
were thought to be most suitable for publication in 
this volume. I should have been glad to insert two 
other dissertations from the same work ; namely, 
that on Natural Religion, and that on the Compar 
ison of St. Paul with Philo. But the former, in set 
ting aside some of the usual proofs of the existence 
of the Deity, did not appear to me to contain such 
explanations and qualifications as might make it useful 
to readers unacquainted with the writer s philosophy. 
The latter was omitted because, though learned and 
valuable, it was not likely to be useful to persons un 
acquainted with the Greek language. 

* See page xxv. t Norton s Answer to Pynchon, p. 122. 


Several valuable Essays have been selected from 
the recent Commentary on the Epistles to the Corin 
thians, in two octavo volumes, by the Rev. Arthur P. 
Stanley, Canon of Canterbury, who is somewhat 
known in this country by his Life of Dr. Arnold. His 
work on the Epistles to the Corinthians manifests the 
same scholarship and independence, united with rev 
erence, which distinguish the Commentary by Pro 
fessor Jowett. 

The closing Essay on the Credibility of Miracles, 
by Dr. Thomas Brown, the distinguished author of 
the well-known Lectures on the Philosophy of the 
Human Mind, has been for some time out of print. 
It appears to me to meet the objections of Mr. Hume 
in a far more satisfactory manner than they have been 
met by most writers on the subject. 

It cannot escape the notice of the reader, that very 
few of the Essays in this volume were written by pro 
fessed Unitarians. Most of them are by eminent 
divines and scholars of the Church of England. But 
in the circulation of books the great question should 
be whether they contain true and just views, and not 
by whom they were written. That we have been 
able to select so large a volume of Essays on very 
important subjects from writers of the Established 
Church of England in harmony with the views of 
Unitarians, is a fact highly encouraging in regard to 
the progress of truth, and at the same time highly 
creditable, not only to the independence of the writers, 
but to the practical freedom which at present prevails 
in that church. No one of them, I believe, has yet 
incurred any higher penalty on account of his publica 
tions than that of rewriting his rame. It. is to be 


hoped that the results to which several of the learned 
writers have arrived, notwithstanding the natural bias 
arising from their ecclesiastical connections, will se 
cure for them, from different classes of readers, that 
candid and attentive consideration which their impor 
tance demands. The voice which comes from this 
volume is the united utterance of Episcopalians, Lu 
therans, and Unitarians. 

CAMBRIDGE, May 7, 1855. 




ONE of the questions which theology has oftenest debated, 
the foremost, perhaps, at least in the sense that it serves 
for a prologue to all others, is the eternal antithesis of rea 
son and faith. From the powerlessness of reason and the 
necessity of faith, certain writers make the point of departure 
and the termination of their works. The same idea at this 
time inspires and fills almost entirely a multitude of religious 
writings, whose object is to invoke faith, not to regulate, but 
to oppress, the reason. I shall not pretend to treat this ques 
tion in all its extent, as it involves the entire problem of hu 
man nature and knowledge. I wish, in fact, rather to investi 
gate the real and natural acceptation of the word faith, so 
powerful and so mysterious, and exercising such a different 
empire over the soul of man, sometimes illuminating, and 
sometimes misleading it ; here, the source of the most won- 
derfil actions ; there, the veil thrown over the basest designs. 
I wish to ascertain if, according to plain language and the 
common thought of mankind, there is, in reality, that oppo 
sition and incompatibility which certain writers endeavor to 
institute between faith and reason, between science and faith. 
Such an examination is, perhaps, the best means of solving 

* Translated in Kitto s Journal of Sacred Literature, Vol. V., New 
Series, from Meditations et Etudes Morales, par M. Guizot." 2de 6dition. 



the question which lies concealed under these terms, of ob 
taining from them, at least, glimpses of the solution. 

No one can doubt that the word faith (foi) has an especial 
meaning, which is not properly represented by belief (croy- 
ance), conviction (conviction), or certitude (certitude). Cus 
tom and universal opinion confirm this view. There are 
many simple and customary phrases in which the word faith 
(foi) could not be replaced by any other. Almost all lan 
guages have a specially appropriated word* to express that 
which in French is expressed by foi, and which is essentially 
different from all analogous words. 

This word, then, corresponds to a certain state of the hu 
man soul; it expresses a moral fact which has rendered 
such a word necessary. 

We commonly understand by faith (foi) a certain belief of 
facts and dogmas, religious facts and dogmas. In fact, the 
word has no other sense when, employing it absolutely and 
by itself, we speak of the faith. 

That is not, however, its unique, nor even its fundamental 
sense ; it has one more extensive, and from which the relig 
ious sense is derived. We say: "I have full faith in your 
words ; this man has/m ^ in himself, in his power," &c. This 
employment of the word in civil matters, so to speak, has 
become more frequent in our days: it is not, however, of 
modern invention ; nor have religious ideas ever been an 
exclusive sphere, out of which the notion, and the word, faith, 
were without application. 

It is, then, proved by the testimony of language and com 
mon opinion, first, that the word faith designates a certain 
interior state of him who believes, and not merely a certain 
kind of belief; that it proceeds from the very nature of con 
viction, and not from its object. Secondly, that it is, however, 
to a certain species of belief religious belief that it has 
been at first, and most generally, applied. 

* In Greek vopi&iv, Triorevf iv ; in Latin, sententia, fides ; in Italian, 
credenza,fede; in English, faith, belief; in German (if I mistake not* 


Thus, the sense of the word has been special, in fact and in 
its origin, although it is not fundamentally so ; or rather, the 
occasion of the employment of the word has been special, 
although its sense is not so. 

It would but be a fact without importance, and sufficiently 
common in the history of the formation of languages and 
ideas, if the true and general sense of the word faith was 
reproduced entire in its special employment ; but it has been 
otherwise. The specialty of the usual acceptation of the 
word has profoundly obscured the general sense; the true 
notion of faith has undergone an alteration under the notion 
of religious faith. And from this disagreement between the 
historical senses, so to speak, and the philosophical sense of 
the term, have resulted the obscurity of the moral fact which 
it expresses, and the greater part of the errors to which it 
has given place. 

In truth, the words which express an interior disposition, 
a certain state of the human soul, have almost always a 
fixed and identical sense, which is independent of the interior 
object to which the disposition refers, and of the external 
cause which produced it. Thus, men love different objects ; 
they have contrary certitudes ; but the words love, certitude, 
in ordinary language and common life, do not less preserve, 
always and for all, the same sense ; their general acceptation 
remains and prevails, whatever be the specialty of their em 
ployment ; and the passions, interests, and errors of those 
who make use of them do not want, nor have they the power, 
to alter it. 

The destiny of the word faith has been different. Almost 
exclusively applied to religious subjects, what changes its 
sense has undergone, and still undergoes every day ! 

Men who teach and preach a religion, a doctrine, or a re- 
I .idous reformation, in making their appeal with all the energy 
of the freed human spirit, produce in their followers an en 
tire, pro bund, and powerful conviction of the truth of their 
doctrine. This conviction is called faith ; neither masters 
ncff disciples, nor even enemies, refuse it this appellation. 


Faith, then, is but a profound and imperious conviction of a 
religious dogma ; it matters but little whether it has come in 
theway of reasoning, or controversy, or of free and liberal 
investigation : that which characterizes it, and gives it a claim 
to be called faith, is its energy, and the dominion it exercises, 
by this title, over the entire man. Such has been at aU times 
in the sixteenth century for example the faith of great 
reformers and their most illustrious disciples, Calvin after 
Luther, and Knox after Calvin, &c. 

The same men have presented the same doctrine to persons 
whom they were not able to convince by methods of reason- 
ing, examination, or science, to women and to multitudes in 
capable of long reflection : they have made their appeals to 
the imagination, to the moral affections, and to the suscepti 
bility of being moved and of believing through emotion. And 
they have given the name of faith to the result of this work, 
as to that of a work essentially intellectual, of which I spake 
just now. Faith has become a religious conviction which 
was not acquired by reasoning, and which took its rise in the 
sensuous faculties of man. This is the idea which mystic 
sects attach to faith. 

The appeal to man s sensuous nature, and the resulting 
emotion, have not always sufficed to bring forth this faith. 
Other sources have then been appealed to. They have en 
joined practices, and imposed habits. It is absolutely neces 
sary that a man should, sooner or later, attach ideas to his 
actions, and that he should attribute a certain meaning to that 
which produces in him a certain effect. The practices and 
habits have conducted the mind to the beliefs from which 
they themselves were derived. A new faith has appeared, 
which has had for its principal and dominant characteristic 
submission of the mind to an authority invested with a right 
to regulate the thoughts whilst governing the lips. 

In short, neither the free exercise of the intelligence, nor 
the sentiment, nor practices, have elsewhere succeeded in 
producing faith. We have said that it is not communicated, 
and that If is not in the power of man to give it, nor to ac- 


quire it by his own peculiar endeavors ; that it demands the 
interposition of God, the action of grace ; grace has 
become the preliminary condition, and the definitive charac 
teristic of faith. 

Thus by turns the word faith expresses : 

Istly. A conviction acquired by the free labor of the hu- 
* man mind. 

2dly. A conviction obtained by means of the sensitivity 
(sensibilitc), and without the concurrence, often even against 
the authority, of the reason. 

3dly. A conviction acquired by the very submission of the 
man to a power which has received from on high the right to 

4thly. A conviction wrought by superhuman means, by 
divine grace. 

And according as the one or the other of these different 
faiths, if we may so speak, has prevailed, religion, philosophy, 
government, and the whole of society have been observed to 
vary, simultaneously and by a necessary correspondence. 

How has the same word been able to subserve so many 
different, and even contradictory acceptations ? What is that 
mysterious fact which presents itself to minds under such 
different aspects ? Has the necessity of legitimating the fun 
damental principle, and the system of the government of dif 
ferent religious beliefs, alone caused the variation of the 
notion of faith ? or rather, do all these definitions correspond, 
on some one side, with that state of the human soul ; and 
have they no other irregularity than that of being partial and 
exclusive ? 

These are questions which cannot be solved, so long as 
men persist, as they have done to this day, in characterizing 
faith by its causes, or its external effects. It is in itself that 
the fact must be considered ; we must search out what is the 
state of mind where faith reigns, independently of its origin 
and its object. 

Two kinds of beliefs co-exist in man : the one, which I 
will not call innate, an inexact and justly-debated oxpres- 


sion, but natural and spontaneous, which germinate and 
establish themselves in his mind, if not without his knowl 
edge, at least without the co-operation of his reflection and 
will, by the development solely of his nature, and the in 
fluence of that external world in the midst of which his life 
is spent. The others, laborious and learned, the fruit of 
voluntary study, and of the power which a man has, whether 
to direct all his faculties towards an especial object with the 
design of knowing it, or of reflecting upon himself, and of 
perceiving that which passes within him, and of giving 
himself an account of it, and thus of acquiring, by an act of 
the will and reflection, a science which he possessed not 
before, although the facts which it has for its object subsist 
equally under his eyes, or within him. 

That there is moral good and evil, and that man is bound to 
avoid the evil, and to fulfil the good, this is a natural, prim 
itive, and universal belief. Man is so constituted that it de 
velops itself in him spontaneously, by the course merely of 
his life, from the first appearance of the facts to which it must 
apply itself, very long before he could know himself, and could 
be able to know that he believed. Once originated, this belief 
acts on the soul of man almost as the blood circulates in his 
veins, without his willing it, and without his thinking of it. 
The greater part of mankind have never given it a name, 
nor formed for themselves a general and distinct idea of it : 
it does not, however, the less subsist in them, revealing itself 
every time that the occasion presents itself, by an action, a 
judgment, or a simple emotion. Human morality is a fact 
which does not stand in need of human science to throw light 
upon it. 

Like every other fact, this also can become a matter of 
science. The moral being beholds itself, and studies itself: it 
renders account to itself of the principle of its actions, judg 
ments, and moral sentiments : it assists at the spectacle of its 
own nature, and pretends not only to know, but to govern it, 
according to its acquired knowledge. Naturally and sponta 
neously, belief in the distinction of moral good and evil thus 


becomes reflective and scientific. Man remains the same; 
but he was self-ignorant, and acted simply according to his 
nature ; nevertheless he knows himself, and his science pre 
sides over his action. 

This is but an example ; I could cite a thousand others of 
the same kind. Man carries within himself a multitude of 
beliefs of which he has the consciousness, but not the science ; 
which external facts awaken in him, though they have never 
been the chosen objects and the special aim of his thoughts. 
It is by beliefs of this kind that the human race is enlightened 
and guided ; they abound in the spirit of the most meditative 
philosophy, and direct it oftener than the reflective convictions 
to which it has arrived. Divine wisdom has not delivered 
over the soul and life of man to the hazards of human science ; 
it has not condemned it to expect all its intellectual riches 
from its own proper work. It is, it lives ; that is enough : 
by this sole title, and by the progressive development of this 
fact alone, it will possess lights indispensable for guiding its 
life, and for the accomplishment of its destiny. It can aspire 
higher ; it can elevate itself to the. science of the world, and 
of itself; and, by the aid of science, can exercise over the 
world and itself a power analogous to creative power. But 
then it will be require* that it should only build on the prim 
itive foundation which it has received from Providence ; for 
just as all natural and spontaneous belief can become scien 
tific, so all scientific conviction received its source and its 
point of support in natural belief. 

Of these two kinds of belief, which merits the name of 

It appears, at first sight, that this name agrees perfectly 
with natural and spontaneous beliefs ; they are exempt from 
doubts and disquietude ; they direct man in his judgments and 
actions with an imperial authority which he does not dream of 
eluding or contesting ; they are natural, sure, practical, and 
sovereign. Who does not recognize in all this the character 
istics of faith ? 

Faith has in effect these characteristics ; but it has also 


others which are wanting to natural beliefs. Almost unknown 
by the very man whom they direct, they are for him, in a 
certain way, as external laws, which he has received, but not 
appropriated, and which he obeys by instinct, but without 
having given to them an intimate and personal assent. They 
suffice for the wants of his life ; they guide, warn, urge on, 
or restrain him, but without, so to speak, his own concurrence 
with them, and without awakening within him the sentiment 
of an interior, energetic, and powerful activity ; and without 
procuring for him the profound joy of contemplating, loving, 
and adoring the truth which reigns over him. Faith has this 
power. It is not science, still less is it ignorance. The mind 
which is penetrated by it has never, perhaps, rendered, and 
perhaps never will render, an account of the idea which has 
obtained its faith ; but it knows that it believes it ; it is before 
it, present and living ; it is no longer a general belief, a law 
of human nature, which governs the moral man, as the laws 
of gravity govern bodies ; it is a personal conviction, a truth 
which the moral individual has appropriated to himself by 
contemplation, by free obedience and love. From that time 
this truth does much more than suffice for his life ; it satisfies 
his soul; and still more than directing, it enlightens it. It is. 
surprising how men live under the dominion of this natural 
belief that there is moral good or evil, without our being able 
to say that it has their faith ! It is in them as a master to 
whom they belong and whom they obey, but without seeing 
him, and without loving or rendering him homage. That any 
cause whatever, revealing, so to speak, the consciousness to 
itself, should draw and fix their regards upon this law of their 
nature ; that they acknowledge and accept it, as their legiti 
mate sovereign ; that their understanding should honor itself 
in contemplating it, and their liberty in obeying it ; that they 
should conceive of their soul, if I may so speak, as a hearth 
where truth concentrates itself to spread from thence its light, 
or as the sanctuary where God deigns to dwell ; all this is 
more than simple and natural belief, it is faith. 

The difference between these two states of the soul is sc 


real and so profound, that it has been at all times, and still is, 
one of the principal sources of the diversity of religions and 
the division of churches. The one is principally applied to 
spread, or to maintain, general beliefs, fixed and incorporated, 
in some way, in the habits and practices of life : in short, 
analogous, by the mode of their influence, to those irreflective 
and almost instinctive beliefs whereof God has made the 
moral condition of the human race. The others have had, 
above all, to awaken for the heart and in the soul of each 
individual, a personal and intimate belief, which should give 
him a lively feeling of his own intellectual activity and liber 
ty, and which he might consider as his own peculiar treasure. 
The former have marched, so to speak, torch in hand, at the 
head of nations ; the latter have sought to place within each 
man movement and light. Neither the one nor the other 
tendency ever could become exclusive ; there have been facts, 
beliefs profoundly individual in religions, which least of all 
provoke their development ; there are, also, men governed by 
general and legal beliefs, external, in some sense, to their 
soul, in religions-- the most favorable to the interior life of the 
individual. It is not the less true, that, at all times, one or 
the other of these tendencies has ruled in various religions ; 
and not only in various religions, but, by turns, in the same 
religion at various epochs of its existence ; so that the differ 
ence of the two corresponding states of the soul, and the 
character of that to which "truly the name of faith belongs, 
are clearly imprinted in the history of humanity. 

Reflective and scientific beliefs, on the contrary, have this 
in common with faith, that they are profoundly individual, 
and give a lively feeling of interior and voluntary activity. 
Nothing belongs more to the individual than his science ; he 
knows where it commenced, and how it has become enlarged, 
and what means and efforts have been used to acquire it ; 
and what it has added, so to speak, to his intellectual worth, 
and to the extent of his existence. But if, by that means, 
scientific beliefs are nearer to faith than natural and irreflec 
tive beliefs, yet, on other sides, they remain much farther 


removed from them, and from the first they are confined to 
doubt and uncertainty. They measure, and almost admit, 
various degrees of probability ; and even when they are con 
fident of their legitimacy, they do not deny that they can be 
modified, and even overturned, by a wider and more exact 
science; whilst the most entire and immovable certitude is 
the fundamental characteristic of faith. All science is felt to 
be bounded and incomplete ; every man who studies, what 
ever be the object of his study, however advanced and as 
sured he himself may be of his own knowledge, knows that 
he has not reached the boundary of his career, and that for 
him, as for every other, fresh efforts will lead to fresh progress. 
Faith, on the contrary, is in its own eyes a complete and 
finished belief; and if it should appear that something yet 
remains for it to acquire, it would not be faith. It has noth 
ing progressive, it excludes all idea that anything is want 
ing, and judges itself to be in full possession of the truth 
which is its object. From thence proceeds a vast inequality 
of power between the different kinds of conviction ; faith, 
freed from all intellectual labor and from all study, (since, so 
far as knowledge is concerned, it is complete,) turns all the 
force of. its possessor towards action. As soon as he becomes 
penetrated by it, only one task remains for his accomplish 
ment, that of causing the idea which has taken possession 
of his faith to reign and to be realized without. The history 
of religions of all religions proves, at each step, this ex 
pansive and practical energy of belief, with which the char 
acters of faith have been converted. It displays itself even 
on occasions when in no way it appears provoked or sustained 
by the moral importance or the visible grandeur of results. 

I could cite a singular example of it. In the course of our 
Revolution, the theoretical and actual superiority of the new 
system of weights and measures quickly became for some 
men, who were the subordinate servants of an administration 
charged with establishing it, a complete and imperious truth, 
to which nothing could be objected, added, or refused. They 
pursued from that time its triumphs with an ardor, an obsti- 


nacy, and sometimes a prodigious devotion. I have known 
a public officer, who, more than twenty years after the birth 
of the system, and when no one scarcely dreamed of disturb 
ing himself any more about it, gave himself up, day and 
night, to extraordinary labors, letters, instructions, and verifi 
cations, which his superiors did not demand, and which he 
had often great trouble in causing to be adopted, in order to 
accelerate its extension and strength. The new system of 
weights and measures was for this man the object of a true 
faith; he would reproach himself for his repose, whilst any 
thing remained to be done for its success. Scientific beliefs, 
even when they would admit of immediate application, rarely 
carry a man so to struggle against the outer world as to re 
duce it under his dominion. When the human mind is, above 
all, preoccupied with the design or the pleasure of knowledge, 
it there concentrates, and, so to speak, exhausts itself; and 
there remain for it neither desires nor powers to be otherwise 
employed. Scientific beliefs, accustomed to doubts, to groping 
in darkness, and to contempts, hesitate to command : without 
efforts and without anger, they make their appeals to igno 
rance, uncertainty, and even error, and scarcely know how to 
propagate themselves, or to act, but by methods which con 
duct to science ; that is to say, by inciting to meditation and 
study, they proceed too slowly to be able to exercise outward 
ly an extensive and actual power. 

Perhaps, also, the very origin of scientific beliefs might be 
counted amongst the causes which deprive them of that em 
pire, and that confidence in action and command, which is the 
general characteristic of faith. It is to himself that man 
owes his science ; it is his own work, the fruit of his own 
labor, and the reward of his own merit. Perhaps, even in 
the midst of the pride which such a conquest often inspires, a 
secret warning feeling comes over him, that, in claiming and 
exercising authority in the name of his science, it is to the 
reason and the understanding of one man that he pretends to 
subjugate men, a feeble and doubtful title to great power; 
and which, at the moment of action, can certainly, without 


their own consciousness, cast into the soul of the proudest 
some timidity. Nothing like this is met with in faith. How 
ever profoundly individual it is, from the time it has entered 
into the heart of man, it signifies not by what means, it ban 
ishes all idea of a conquest which can be his own, or of a 
discovery the glory of which he can attribute to himself. 
He is no longer occupied with himself ; wholly absorbed by 
the truth which he believes, no personal sentiment any longer 
raises itself with his knowledge, excepting the sentiment of 
the happiness it procures for him, and of the mission it im 
poses upon him. The learned man is the conqueror and the 
inventor of his science ; the believer is the agent and thf 
servant of his faith. It is not in the name of his own su 
periority, but in the name of that truth to which he has 
yielded himself, that the believer claims obedience. Charged 
to procure for it sovereignty, he bears himself, in reference to 
it, with a passionate disinterestedness ; and this persuasion 
impresses upon his language and upon his acts a confidence 
and authority, with which the proudest science would in vain 
endeavor to invest itself. Let us consider how different is the 
pride which is produced by science, from that which accom 
panies faith : the one is scornful and full of personality ; the 
other is imperious and full of blindness. The learned man 
isolates himself from those who do not comprehend what he 
knows ; the believer pursues with his indignation or his pity 
those who do not yield themselves to what he believes. The 
first desires personal distinction ; the other desires that all 
should unite themselves under the law of the master whom 
he serves. What can this variety of the same fault import, 
excepting that the learned man beholds himself, and reckons 
himself, in his science, whilst the believing man forgets and 
abdicates himself in favor of his faith ? It is further necessary 
to explain how the same idea, the same doctrine, can remain 
cold and inactive in the hands of the learned man, and with 
out any practical use even in men whose understanding it has 
illuminated; whilst, in the hands of the believer, it can be 
come communicative, expansive, and an energetic principle oi 
action and power. 


Faith does not, then, enter exclusively either into the one 
or the other of these two kinds of beliefs, which, at first sight, 
appear to share the soul of man. It partakes of, and at the 
same time differs from, natural and scientific beliefs. It is, 
like the latter, individual and particular : like the former, it is 
firm, complete, active, and sovereign. Considered in itself, 
and independent of all comparison with this or that analogous 
condition, faith is the full security of the man in the possession 
of his belief ; a possession freed as much from labor as from 
doubt ; in the midst of which every thought of the path by 
which it has been reached disappears, and leaves no othei 
sentiment but that of the natural and pre-established harmony 
between the human mind and truth. As soon as faith exists, 
all search after truth ceases ; man considers himself to have 
arrived at his object ; his belief is no longer for him anything 
but a source of enjoyments and precepts ; it satisfies his un 
derstanding and governs his life, bestows upon him repose, 
and regulates and absorbs, without extinguishing, his intellect 
ual activity ; and directs his liberty without destroying it. 
Is he disposed to contemplation ? his faith opens an illimitable 
field for his thoughts ; they can run over it in all directions, 
and without fatigue, for he is no longer vexed by the ne 
cessity of reaching the object, and discovering the path to 
it; he has touched the boundary, and has nothing more to 
do but to cultivate, at his leisure, a world which belongs to 
him. Is he called to action ? He throws himself wholly into 
it, sure of never wanting impulse and guidance, tranquil and 
animated, urged on and sustained by the double force of duty 
and passion. For the man, in short, being penetrated by 
faith, and within the sphere which is its object, the under 
standing and the will have no more problems to solve, and no 
more interior obstacles to surmount : he feels himself to be in 
the full possession of the truth for enlightening and guiding 
him, and of himself for acting according to the truth. 

But if such is the state of the human soul, if faith differs 
essentially from other kinds of belief, it is evident at the same 
lime that neither natural nor scientific beliefs have anything 


which excludes faith ; that both one and the other can invest 
their characters with it ; and, further still, that either one or 
the other is always the foundation on which faith supports 
itself , or the path which leads to it. 

See a man in whom the idea of God has been nothing but 
a vague and spontaneous belief, the simple result of a course 
of life and of external circumstances, an idea which holds 
a place in his mind and conduct, but on which he has never 
fallen back and fixed his intellectual regards, and which he 
has never appropriated to himself by an act of voluntary and 
briefly-sustained reflection. Let any cause whatsoever as 
a great danger or sorrow strike him with a powerful emo 
tion, and present to him the misery of his condition and the 
weakness of his nature, and awaken within him this need 
of superior succor, this instinct of prayer, often lulled to 
sleep, but never extinguished in the heart of man. All at 
once the idea of God, till then abstract, cold, and proud, will 
appear to this man, living, urgent, and particular ; it has 
attached itself to him with ardor, it will penetrate into all 
his thoughts, his belief will become faith ; and Pascal will 
be borne out when he said, " Faith is God sensibly realized 
by the heart," 

Another has lived in submission to religious practices, with 
out having associated with them any truly personal convic 
tion; as an infant, others might make a law for him; as 
master of himself, he has retained the habit of obedience, 
docile to a fact rather than attached to a duty, and not dream 
ing of penetrating farther into the sense of the rule than to 
verify its authority. A time has arrived when occasions and 
temptations to offend against this law have presented them 
selves ; a contest has arisen between the habits and tastes, 
between the desires, and, perhaps, the passions. What this 
person could practise without thought has now become a sub 
ject of reflection, anxiety, and inward sorrow. To preserve 
its empire, it becomes necessary that the rule, until then mis 
tress only of the exterior life of the man, should penetrate 
and establish itself within his soul. It has succeeded in that ; 


and to remain true to his practices, he has been required to 
make sacrifices for them ; and he has made them. The state 
of his soul is changed : habit is converted into conviction ; 
practice into duty ; and observance into moral want. In the 
day of trial, the long submission to a general rule, and to a 
power clothed with the right to prescribe, has brought forth a 
particular and individual adhesion of thought and will, that 
is to say, what was wanting to faith. 

For scientific beliefs this transition to the state of faith is 
more difficult and more rare. Even when, by meditation, rea 
soning, and study, any one has attained to conviction, he re 
mains nearly always occupied with the labor which has con 
ducted to it, his long uncertainties, the deviations by which he 
has been misled, and the false steps he has made. He has 
arrived at his object, but the remembrance of the route is 
present to him, with all its embarrassments, accidents, and 
chances. He has come into the presence of light, but the 
impression of the darkness, and the dubious lights he has 
crossed, are yet present to his thoughts. In vain his convic 
tion is entire ; there are yet to be discovered traces of the 
labor which has presided over its formation. It wants sim 
plicity and confidence. There is a certain fatigue connected 
with it, which enervates its practical virtue and fruitfulness. 
He finds trouble in forgetting and overthrowing the scaffold 
ing of the science, in order that the truth, of which it is the 
object, may wholly belong to his nature. We might say, the 
butterfly is restrained by the shell in which it was born, and 
from which it is not fully disengaged. 

Nevertheless, although the difficulty is great, it is not in 
surmountable. More than once, for the glory of humanity, 
man, by the force of his intelligence and scientific meditations, 
has reached to beliefs, to which there has been wanting none 
of the characteristics of faith, neither fulness nor certainty 
of conviction, nor the forgetfulness of personality, npr expan- 
sivenoss and practical power, nor the pure and profound 
enjoyments of contemplation. Who would refuse to recognize 
in the belief of the most illustrious Stoics in the sovereignty 


of moral good, in Cleanthes, Epictetus, and Marcus Aure- 
li us> a true faith ? And was not the religious faith of the 
principal Reformers, or Reformed, of the sixteenth century, 
Zwingle, Melancthon, Duplessis Mornay, the fruit of study 
and science, as well as the philosophical doctrines of Descartes 
and Leibnitz ? And lately, under the idea that falsehood is 
the source of all the vices of man, and that at no price, in 
no moment, and for no cause, can it be necessary to swerve 
from the truth, did not Kant arrive, by a long series of medi 
tations, to a conviction perfectly analogous to faith? The 
analogy was such, that the day when his certainty of the prin- 
ple became complete and definite constituted an epoch in his 
memory and life, as others call to mind the event or the emo 
tion which has changed the condition of the soul ; so that, 
dating from that day, according to his own testimony, he lived 
constantly in the presence, and under the empire, of this idea ; 
just as a Christian lives in the presence, and under the em 
pire, of the faith from which he expects salvation. 

Reflective and scientific beliefs can be converted into faith : 
the difficulties of the transformation are much greater, and 
the success much more rare, than when natural and sponta 
neous beliefs are concerned. Nevertheless, the transforma 
tion of science into faith can be, and sometimes is, accom 
plished ; and if more frequently science stops far short of 
faith, it is not because there exists something opposed and 
irreconcilable in their nature, but because faith is placed at 
the boundary of that oourse which science is not in a con 
dition wholly, and of itself, to accomplish. 

Nevertheless, it is easy, if I mistake not, to observe the 
fault of these theories which I enumerated at the commence 
ment, and which men and the world so ardently dispute. It 
is their fundamental error, that they have not regarded faith 
in itself, and as a special state of the human mind, but in the 
mode of its formation. They have been thus induced to 
assign for its essential and exclusive characteristic such and 
such origins, from which it is possible that faith may be de 
rived, not admitting it as legitimate, however, or even real, 


but when it had a certain especial power ; and rejecting and 
denying all faith when derived from a different source, al 
though it should place the soul of man in the same disposition, 
and produce the same effects. It is true that faith often re 
ceives its origin from an emotion, as the mystics contend ; but 
it is also produced by submission to authority, as the Roman 
Catholic doctors with reason say ; and also from reflection, 
science, and a full and free exercise of the human under 
standing, although both the one and the other refuse their 
assent to this. In his liberal wisdom, God has offered more 
than one way for arriving at that happy state when, tranquil 
at length in the possession of his belief, man dreams of noth 
ing but of enjoying and obeying what he regards as the truth. 
There is faith in knowledge, since it has truth for its object ; 
and man can reach it by the faculties which he has received 
for knowing. There is also love in faith ; for man cannot see 
the fulness of truth without loving it. The sensuous faculties 
and the emotions of the soul are sufficient to engender faith. 
In short, in faith there are respect and submission ; for truth 
commands, at the same time that it charms and enlightens. 
Faith can be the sincere and pure submission to a power 
which is regarded as the depository of truth. Thus the va 
riety of the origins of faith, of which human pride would 
make a principle of exclusion and privilege, is a benefit be 
stowed by the Divine will, which, so to speak, has placed faith 
within reach of all, in permitting it to take its origin from 
each of the moral elements which constitute faith, namely, 
knowledge, submission, and love. 

As for those who, rejecting every kind of explanation and 
origin of faith merely human, will see nothing in it but the 
direct and actual interposition of God and especial grace, 
their notion, if apparently more strange, is at bottom more 
natural ; for it touches the problems which do not belong to 
man to solve. In the external and material world, when a 
powerful, sudden, and unexpected phenomenon appears, which, 
at a stroke, changes the face of things, and seems not to at 
tach itself to their ordinary course, nor to explain itself by 


their anterior state, man instantly refers it to a real and par 
ticular act of the will of the Master of the World. The 
presence of God can alone explain for man that which strikes 
his imagination and escapes his reason ; and where science 
and experience cannot reach, there he assigns an especial and 
immediate act of God. Thus the thunderbolt, the tempest, 
earthquakes, vast floods, concussions, and extraordinary revo 
lutions of the globe, have been taken for signs and effects of 
the direct action of God, up to the time when man has dis 
covered for them a place and an explanation in the general 
course of facts and their laws. The same want and the same 
inclination rule man in the ideas he has formed about the in 
terior world, and the phenomena of which he himself is the 
theatre and the witness. When a great change and moral 
revolution have been accomplished in his soul, when he per 
ceives himself to be illuminated by a light, and warmed by a 
fire, hitherto unknown, he has taken no notice of the myste 
rious progress, the slow and concealed action, of ideas, senti 
ments, and influences which were probably for a long time 
preparing him for this state. He cannot attribute it to an act 
of his own will ; and he knows not how, so to speak, to trace 
back the course of his interior life for the purpose of discov 
ering its origin. He refers it, therefore, to a divine will, 
special and actual. Grace alone could have produced this 
revolution in his soul, for he himself did not make it, nor does 
he know how it was produced. The birth of faith, above all 
when it proceeds from natural and irreflective beliefs which 
pass, without the intervention of science, to this new state, 
often bears this character of a sudden revolution, unforeseen 
and obscure for him who undergoes it. It is, then, very plain 
that the idea of the direct interposition of God has been in 
voked on this occasion. In the sense which people have com 
monly attributed to this idea, it withdraws itself and retires, 
here as elsewhere, before a more attentive study and a more 
complete knowledge of facts, their connection, and their laws. 
We are led to acknowledge that this state of the soul, which 
is called faith, is the development differently conducted, 


Bometimes sudden and sometimes progressive, but always 
natural of certain anterior facts, with which, although essen 
tially distinct, it is connected by an intimate and necessary tie. 
But supposing this recognized, and faith thus conducted to the 
place which belongs to it in the general and regular course 
of moral phenomena, a grand question always remains, the 
question lying hid at the bottom of the doctrine of grace, and 
which indirectly this doctrine attempts to solve. In ceasing to 
see God in the tempest and thunder, narrow and weak minds 
figure to themselves that they shall no more meet with him, 
and that they shall nowhere any more have need of him. But 
the First Cause hovers over all second causes, and over all facts 
and their laws. When all the secrets of the universe shall have 
unveiled themselves to human science, the universe will yet 
be a secret to it ; and God appears to withdraw himself from 
before it, only to invite and constrain it to elevate itself more 
and more towards himself. In the science of the moral world 
the same thing happens. When people shall have ceased every 
moment to invoke grace, and grace alone, to explain faith, it 
will always remain to be learnt what power presides over the 
life of the soul ; how truth reveals itself to man, who is un 
able either to seize or reject it, according to his own will ; 
from whence comes that fire whose hearth is evidently ex 
ternal to himself; what relations and communications exist 
between God and man ; what, in short, in the interior life of 
the human soul, is the share of its own activity and freedom, 
and what it must attribute to that action which proceeds from 
without, and to that influence from on high which the pride or 
the levity of the human mind endeavors not to know. This 
is the grand problem, the problem that presents itself the 
moment we touch that point where the things of earth and 
man are joined to that higher order on which man and the 
earth so clearly depend. The doctrine of grace is one of the 
attempts of the human mind to solve it. The solution, at 
least in my opinion, is beyond the limits assigned to human 

I have endeavored to determine with precision what faith 


is in itself, independently of its object ; I have laid down the 
characteristics of this state of the soul, and the different paths 
by which man can be conducted to it, whatever may be, so to 
speak, its materials. By this means we may be able to suc 
ceed in ascertaining the true nature of faith, and in bringing 
it into clearer light, disengaging from every foreign element 
the moral fact concealed under this name. I hasten to add, 
nevertheless, that this moral fact is not produced indifferently 
in all cases ; that all human beliefs, whether natural or scien 
tific, are not equally susceptible of passing from the condition 
of faith ; and that, in the vast field where human thought is 
exercised, there are objects especially calculated to awaken a 
conviction of this kind, to become materials for faith. 

This is a fact which is attested even by the history of the 
word, and which I noticed at the beginning ; its common ac 
ceptation is also special. At first sight, it seems to be exclu 
sively consecrated to religious belief; and although it lends 
itself to other uses, and although, even in our own days, its 
sphere seems to be enlarged, it is evident that, in a multitude 
of cases where it is concerned (for example, with geography, 
botany, technology, &c.), the word faith is out of place ; that 
is to say, the moral state to which this word corresponds is 
not produced by such subjects. 

As faith has its peculiar interior characteristics, so it has 
also its exterior necessary conditions ; and it is distinguished 
from other modes of belief of man, not only by its nature, 
but by its object. 

But what are the conditions, and what is the external 
sphere, of faith ? 

Up to a certain point we can determine and catch glimpses 
of them, from the very nature of this state of the soul, and its 
effects. A belief so complete, so accomplished, that all intel 
lectual labor seems to have reached its termination, and that 
man, wholly united with the truth of which he thinks himself 
to be in possession, loses all thought of the path which has 
conducted him to it, so powerful, that it takes possession of 
the exterior activity, as well as of the human mind, and makes 


submission to its empire in all things a passionate necessity, 
as well as a duty, an intellectual state, which can be the 
fruit, not only of the exercise of the reason, but also of a 
powerful emotion, and of a long submission to certain prac 
tices, and in the midst of which, when it has been once de 
veloped, the three grand human faculties are actively em 
ployed, and at the same time satisfied, the sensibility, the 
intelligence, and the will ; such a condition of soul, and such 
a belief, demand in some sort occasions worthy of it, and must 
be produced by subjects which embrace the entire man, and 
put into play all his faculties, and answer to all the demands 
of his moral nature, and have a right, in turn, to his devoted- 

Intellectual beauty, and practical importance, appear then, 
a priori, to be the characteristics of the ideas proper for 
becoming the materials of faith. An idea which should pre 
sent itself as true, but at the same time without arresting by 
the extent and the gravity of its consequences, would produce 
certitude ; but faith would not spring from it. And so prac 
tical merit the usefulness of an idea would not suffice for 
begetting faith ; it must also draw attention by the pure beauty 
of truth. In other words, in order that a simple belief, natural 
or scientific, should become faith, it is necessary that its ob 
ject should be able to procure the pleasures of activity, as 
well as of contemplation, that it may awaken within the 
double sentiment of its high origin and power ; in short, that 
it should present itself before man s eyes as the mediator 
between the moral and the ideal world, as the missionary 
charged with modelling the one on the other, and of uniting 

Facts fully confirm these inductions, drawn from the mere 
nature of the moral phenomenon I am studying. Whether 
we regard the history of the human race, or whether we 
penetrate into the soul of the individual, we see faith through 
out applying itself to objects in which the two aforesaid con 
ditions are united. And if sometimes the one or the other 
of these conditions is wanting, if, on some occasions, the 


object of faith should appear in itself denuded of ideal 
beauty or practical importance, we may hold it for certain, 
that it is not so in the thought of the believer. He will have 
soon discovered, from the truth which is the object of his faith, 
consequences and applications which for others are obscure 
and distant, but for him clear and infallible. Before long his 
ideas, which appear to have but one aim and one useful merit, 
will be elevated in his mind to the rank of a disinterested 
theory, and will possess in his eyes all the dignity and all the 
charm of truth. It is possible that the believer is deceived, 
and that he exaggerates the practical worth or intellectual 
beauty of his idea ; but even his error, agreeing in this with 
the reason and experience of the whole human race, is but a 
new proof of the necessity of these two conditions for the 
production of faith. 

We can understand, however, why the name of faith is 
almost the exclusive privilege of religious beliefs : these are, 
in fact, those whose object possesses in the highest degree the 
two characters which excite the development of faith. Many 
scientific notions are beautiful and fruitful in their applica 
tion ; political theories may forcibly strike the mind by the 
purity of their principles and the grandeur of their results ; 
moral doctrines are yet more surely and generally invested 
with this twofold power ; and either has often awoke faith in 
the soul of man. Nevertheless, in order to receive a clear 
and lively impression, sometimes of their intellectual beauty 
and sometimes of their practical importance, there is almost 
always required a certain amount of science, or sagacity, or, 
at all events, a certain turn of public manners and the social 
state, which are not the portion of all men, nor of all times. 
Religious beliefs have no need of any such aids ; they carry 
with themselves, and in their simple nature, their infallible 
means for effect. As soon as they penetrate into the heart of 
man, however bounded in other respects may be the develop 
ment of his intelligence, however rude and inferior may be 
his condition, they will appear to him as truths at once sub 
lime and common, which are applicable to all the details of 


his earthly existence, and open for him those high regions, 
and those treasures of intellectual life, which, without theii 
light, he would never have known. They exercise over him 
the charm of truth the most pure, and the empire of interest 
the most powerful. Can we be astonished that, as soon as 
they exist, their passage to the state of faith should be so 
rapid, and so general ? 

There is yet another reason more hidden, but not less 
decisive, and which I regret I can only refer to ; the object 
of religious beliefs is, hi a certain and large measure, inacces 
sible to human science. It can verify their reality; it can 
reach even to the limits of this mysterious world, and assure 
itself that there are facts to which the destiny of man infallibly 
attaches itself; but it is not permitted to reach these facts 
themselves, so as to submit them to its examination. Struck 
by this impossibility, more than one philosopher has concluded 
that there was nothing in them, since reason could perceive 
nothing, and that religious beliefs address themselves but to 
the fancy. Others, blinded by their impotence, have tardily 
sprung forward towards the sphere of superhuman things, 
and, as though they had succeeded in penetrating into it, have 
described facts, solved problems, and assigned laws. It is 
difficult to say which mind is the most foolishly proud, that 
which maintains that what it cannot know is not, or that 
which pretends to be capable of knowing all that is. What 
ever may be the case, neither the one nor the other assertion 
has ever obtained for a single day the avowal of the human 
race ; its instinct and practices have constantly disavowed the 
nothing of the incredulous, and the confidence of theologians. 
In spite of the first, it has persisted in believing in the exist 
ence of an unknown world, and in the reality of those rela 
tions which hold mankind united to it ; and notwithstanding 
the power oi the second, it has refused to admit that they 
have attained the object, and lifted the veil ; and it has con 
tinued to agitate the same problems, and to pursue the same 
truths, as ardently and laboriously as at the first day, and as 
if nothing had yet been done. 


See, then, what, in this respect, is the situation of man. 
Natural and spontaneous religious beliefs are produced in 
him, which, by reason of their object, tend at once towards 
the state of faith. They can arrive at it by means foreign 
to reasoning and science, by the emotions and by practices ; 
and the transition is often thus actually brought about. One 
other way appears open before man. Religious beliefs natu 
rally awaken within him the want of science, which not only 
desires to render an account of them, but aspires to go much 
farther than they can conduct it, to know truly this world of 
mysteries, of which they afford it glimpses. Oftentimes, 
though, if I mistake not, wrongly, it flatters itself it has suc 
ceeded ; and thus theology, or the science of divine things, is 
formed, which is the origin of that rational and learned faith, 
of which so many illustrious examples do not permit us to 
contest the reality. Often, also, man, by his own confession, 
fails in his enterprise ; the science which he has pursued after 
resists his most skilful endeavors, and then he falls into doubt 
and confusion, he sees those natural and irreflective beliefs 
darkened, which served him for his starting-point ; or, in fact, 
despairing of the variety of his attempts, and always tor 
mented by the want of that faith which he has promised him 
self to establish by science, he returns to his early beliefs, and 
requires of them to conduct him to faith, without the help of 
science ; that is to say, by the exaltation of his sensuous 
faculties, or by submission to a legal power, the depository 
of the truth which his reason cannot seize. 

Theology itself, from the moment when it announces itself 
as a science of the relations of God with man and the world, 
and presents to the human mind its solutions of the religious 
problems which besiege it, proclaims nothing less than that 
these problems are impenetrable mysteries, and that this 
science is interdicted to human reason ; and that faith, born 
of love, submission, or grace, is alone able to open the under 
standing to truths, which, however, theologians undertake to 
reduce to systematic doctrine, in order to be able to teach or 
demonstrate them to the reason. To such an extent does a 


feeling of the powerlessness of human science, in this matter, 
remain imprinted upon him in fact; although everywhere 
man appears to boast himself of having escaped it. 

Thus, also, is explained that obscure physiognomy, if I may 
so express myself, which appears to be inherent in the word 
faith, and which has so often made it an object of a kind of 
distrust and dislike to strict and free minds. Frequent above 
all within the religious domain, and there oftentimes invoked 
by the powerful and learned, sometimes for the purpose of 
making up for the silence of the reason, and sometimes for 
the purpose of constraining the reason to be silent, faith has 
been considered only under this point of view, and judged only 
after the employment to which it lends itself on this occa 
sion. People have concluded that this belief was essentially 
irrational, blind, and the fruit of ungoverned imaginations ; 
or else imposed by force, or fraud, on the weakness or ser 
vility of the mind. If I have truly observed and described 
the nature of that which bears the name of faith, the error 
is evident. On the contrary, faith is the aim and boundary 
of human knowledge, the definite state to which man aspires 
in his progress towards truth. He begins his intellectual 
career with spontaneous and irreflective beliefs ; at its termi 
nation is faith. There is more than one way but none 
certain for leaping over this interval ; but it is only when 
it has been leaped over, and when belief has become faith, 
that man feels his nature to be fully satisfied, and gives him 
self up wholly to his mission. Legitimate faith, that is to say, 
that which is not mistaken in its object, and addresses itself 
really to the truth, is then the most elevated and most perfect 
state to which, in its actual condition, the human mind can 
arrive. But faith may be illegitimate ; it may be the state 
of mind which error has produced. The chance of error 
(experience at every step proves it) is here even much 
greater, as the paths which lead to it are more multiplied, and 
its effects more powerful. Man may be misled in his faith 
by feelings, habits, and the empire of the moral affections, or 
of external circumstances, as well as by the insufficiency or 


the bad employment of his intellectual faculties ; for faith can 
take its origin from these different sources. And, neverthe 
less, from the tune of its existence, faith is hardy and am 
bitious ; it aspires passionately to expand itself, to invade, to 
rule, and to become the law both of minds and facts. .And 
not only is it ambitious, but bold ; it possesses and displays, 
for the support of its pretensions and designs, an energy, 
address, and perseverance, which are wanting to almost all 
scientific opinions. So that there is in this mode of belief, far 
more than in any other, chance of error for the individual, 
and chance of oppression for society. For these perils there 
is but one remedy, liberty. Whether man believes, or acts, 
his nature is the same ; and to avoid becoming absurd or 
guilty, his thought stands in need of constant opposition and 
constraint, as well as his will. Where faith is wanting, there 
power and moral dignity are equally wanting ; where liberty 
is wanting, faith usurps, then misleads, and at length is lost. 
Let human beliefs pass into the state of faith ; it is their 
natural progress and their glory ; and in their effort towards 
this object, and when they have reached it, let them constant 
ly continue under the control of the free intellect ; it is the 
guaranty of society against tyranny, and the condition of 
their own legitimacy. In the coexistence and mutual respect 
of these two forces reside the beauty and the security of 
social order. 


BY THE REV. BADEN POWELL, M. A., F. R. S., F. G. 8., 


O yap Xpiariavia-fios OVK (is louSaioyioi/ firlo-Tfvo-fv aXXa lov- 
i oyios els XpioTtai/r/ioi/, eby Tracra y\5xr(ra 7rtorevo-a<ra fls Qfov 

ffvvrjxOr). Ignatius ad Magnes. x. 

"For Christianity hath not believed in Judaism, but Judaism in 

Christianity ; that every tongue having believed in God might sound 

forth together." * 


AMONG persons professing to receive the Bible as the au 
thentic record of what in general they believe is Divine Reve 
lation, it is remarkable how little attention is commonly given 
to the obvious diversity of nature and purport in those very 
distinct portions of which the sacred volume consists. To 
any one who does but for a moment reflect on the widely 
remote dates, the extremely diversified character of the 
contents, the totally dissimilar circumstances and occasions 
of the composition, of the several writings, it must be ob 
vious how essentially they require to be viewed with care 
ful discrimination as to the variety of conditions and objects 
which they evince, if they are to be in any degree rightly 
understood, or applied as they were intended to be. But 
manifest as these considerations are, and readily admitted 

* I should translate the last clause of this quotation, " that every 
tongue having believed might be gathered together unto God." G. R. K 


when simply put before any reader of the most ordinary 
attainments and discernment, it is singular to observe how 
commonly they are practically lost sight of in the too preva 
lent modes of reading and applying Scripture. 

In this point of view it must be allowed a matter of the 
most primary importance, as bearing on the whole purport 
and design of the Bible, to apprehend rightly the general 
relation, but at the same time the characteristic differences, of 
the Old and New Testament, the Law and the Gospel, the 
distinctive character to be traced and the sort of connection 
actually subsisting between them. Nor does this turn on con 
siderations of any nice or critical kind, demanding extensive 
learning to appreciate, or deep study to judge of; it implies 
a mere reference to matters of fact, which require but to be 
indicated to be understood, so that it is the more remarkable 
how commonly they are overlooked. 

Yet on no subject, perhaps, are more confused and unsatis 
factory ideas more commonly prevalent ; not only among or 
dinary, careless, or formal readers of Scripture, but even 
among many of better information and more serious religious 
views, a habit is too general of confounding together the con 
tents of all parts of the sacred volume, whether of the old or 
new dispensations, of the Hebrew or of the Christian Scrip 
tures, into one promiscuous mass, regarding them, as it were, 
all as one book, or code of religion, and of citing detached 
texts from both, and promiscuously taking precepts and insti 
tutions, promises and threatenings, belonging to peculiar dis 
pensations, and applying them universally, without regard to 
times, persons, or circumstances. And such a mode of appeal 
ing to Scripture is sometimes even defended, as evincing a 
meritorious reverence for its divine character, and upheld as 
a consequence from the belief in its inspiration. Yet in 
whatever sense that belief be entertained, adopting even the 
strictest meaning of the term, it surely by no means follows 
but that inspired authority may have a reference to one ob 
ject and not to another, a precept or declaration may have 
beer addressed to one party or in one age, and not designed 


for another, without any disparagement to its divine char 

From a thoughtless, desultory, or merely formal habit of 
reading the divine Word, it is not surprising that there should 
result an adoption of those low and unworthy notions which 
prevail so commonly as to the character and genius of the 
Christian religion ; and which especially arise from the con 
fused combination of its principles with those of older and less 
perfect dispensations. That such ideas should obtain ready 
acceptance with the many will not surprise those who con 
sider the various causes in different ways operating to lower 
and degrade the exalted purity and simplicity of the Gospel 
to the level of the corrupt apprehensions of human nature, 
especially among the mass of the ignorant and unthinking 
nominal professors of a belief in its doctrine. 

But it must be a matter of more astonishment that such 
notions should find encouragement with some who professedly 
look at Christianity in a more enlightened sense, and avowed 
ly seek to receive it in no blind, formal manner, but in the 
spirit of its evangelical purity. Yet such unhappily is the 
case. And whether from mere want of thought on the one 
hand, or from preconceived theories on the other, or even in 
some cases (we must fear) from more mixed motives, so un 
prepared are men to entertain more distinct views, that the 
very announcement of them is commonly altogether startling 
and even painful to their prepossessions, and especially when 
these questions are found to be mixed up with certain points 
of supposed practical obligation and religious observance ; it 
follows, that when a more explanatory view of the subject is 
presented, the hearers too generally turn away with impa 
tience, or even with disgust and offence. 

Without indulging the hope of being able to remove or 
conciliate such opposing feelings in all instances, it will be at 
least the endeavor, in the following exposition, to avoid giving 
offence by the assumption of a polemical tone ; yet to state 
the case of Christianity as independent of previous dispensa 
tions, simply in reference to the matter of fact, with that plain- 


ness which the cause of truth demands, according to the tenor 
of the evidence furnished by Scripture, and in the desire to 
maintain and elucidate the pure and enlightening principles of 
the New Testament, according to what appears, at least to the 
author, their unadulterated and evangelical simplicity. 

I. The Primeval Dispensations. 

The general nature, character, and connection of the suc 
cessive divine dispensations recorded in the Bible, as briefly 
described by the writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews (i. 1), 
the announcements in various measures and " portions," 
and under various " forms " or " aspects," * made in times 
past to the fathers by the prophets, fully accords with what 
we collect in detail from the writings of the Old Testament, 
and affords the only simple and satisfactory clew to the inter 
pretation of them. 

The view presented to us is that of successive revelations, 
systems, covenants, laws, given to different individuals, fami 
lies, or nations, containing gradual, progressive, and partial 
developments of the truth, and intimations of the Divine will 
for their guidance, accompanied with peculiar positive insti 
tutions, adapted to the ideas of the age and the condition of 
the parties to whom they were vouchsafed. 

Thus peculiar revelations are represented as having been 
made each distinct from the other, though in some instances 
including repetitions to Adam, to Noah, to Job, to Abra 
ham, to Isaac and Jacob, to the Israelites, first by Moses, 
afterwards by a succession of prophets, as well as in some 
instances to other people; as, for example, to the Nine- 
vites (if the book of Jonah be regarded as historical) ; 
while, in contradistinction to all these, we are told, " in these 
last days God hath spoken unto us by his Son" (ib.) 9 in a 
universal, permanent, and perfect dispensation ; the earlier 
and more partial were not made " to us" or designed "for us" 

Yet it is important to trace the history and character of 

* This is clearly the force of the original, 7roAi>/xe pa>$ KCU 7roAvrpo7rs. 
Heb. i. 1. 


these former dispensations, in order more fully to elucidate 
the distinct nature and independence of the last ; and espe 
cially to remove prevalent misconceptions from a subject 
which, however plain when historically and rationally con 
sidered, has been involved hi much difficulty from gratuitous 
and often visionary theories. 

When we consider the very imperfect intimations, often 
mere hints and allusions, given in the Hebrew records, as to 
these early religious institutions and the design of them, as 
Well as the obvious and wide differences in the circumstances 
of those people and times from our own, the discerning reader 
at once sees how little they can have been intended to be 
understood as containing any permanent elements of a uni 
versal religion, as seems to have been sometimes imagined. 
In the plain terms of the narrative we discover nothing of the 
kind, and in the comment on it which the New Testament 
supplies, we have direct assurance to the contrary. 

In general, we find only that the servants of God in those 
ages were accepted in walking each according to the lights 
vouchsafed to him ; while in other respects we see peculiar 
institutions arid announcements specially adapted to the pecu 
liar ends and purposes of the dispensations. Thus we trace 
from the first the approach to God through sacrifices, offer 
ings, and formal services. 

Some infer from the account of the Divine rest after the 
creation, that there was a primeval institution of the Sabbath, 
though certainly no precept is recorded as having been given 
to man to keep it up. But since, from the irreconcilable con 
tradictions disclosed by geological discovery, the whole narra 
tive of the six days creation cannot now be regarded by any 
competently informed person as historical* the historical 
character of the distinction conferred on the seventh day falls 
to the ground along with it. Yet even without reference to 

* I do not here pretend to enter on the evidence in support of this con 
clusion. It will be found fully discussed in my work, On the Connection 
of Natural and Divine Truth, 1 838, and in my article Creation," in 
Kitto s Cyclopaedia of Bib. Lit. 


this consideration, some of the best commentators have re 
garded the passage as proleptical, or anticipatory. 

Afterwards we find the distinction of clean and -unclean 
animals introduced, and the prohibition of eating blood, in 
the covenant with Noah (Gen. ix. 1), of which the Sabbath 
formed no part ; nor can we find any indication of it in the 
history of the other patriarchs : a point particularly dwelt 
upon by the early Christian divines, who adopted the belief 
of the Jews of their age in interpreting their Scriptures.* 
Some have dwelt on the mention of the division of tune by 
weeks t in several parts of the early Mosaic history : yet 

* Justin Martyr (Dial. c. Trypho, 236, 261 ) says, " The patriarchs 
were justified before God not keeping Sabbaths," and " from Abraham 
originated circumcision and from Moses the Sabbath," &c. Irenaeus (IV. 
30) and Tertullian (Ad Jud., II. 4) both declare that " Abraham without 
circumcision and without observance of Sabbaths believed in God," &c. 

t The early and general adoption of the division of time into weeks 
may be obviously and rationally derived from the simple consideration, 
that among all rude nations the first periodical division of time which 
obtains is that of lunar months, while those conspicuous phenomena, the 
phases or quarters of the moon, correspond to a week nearly enough for 
the common purposes of such nations. 

The universal prevalence of this division by weeks among Eastern 
nations from a very remote period is attested by various ancient writers. 
Dio Cassius ascribes the invention of it to the Egyptians, and assigns 
the origin of the planetary names of the days. (Hist. Rom., XXXVII. 18, 
19.) Oldendorf found it in the interior of Africa. (Jahn, Archceol. Bib., 
art. " Week.") The Brahmins also have the week distinguished by the 
planetary names. (Life of Galileo, 12 ; Laplace, Precis de I Hist. d Astron. 
16.) The Peruvians divide lunar months into halves and quarters, i. e. 
weeks, by the phases of the moon, and besides have a period of nine 
days, the approximate third part of a lunation : thus showing the com 
mon origin of both. ( Garcilasso, Hist, of the Incas, in Taylor s Nat. Hist. 
of Society, I. 291, 292.) 

So also the Romans had their " Nundinae." On the other hand, the 
Mexicans have periods of five and of thirteen days, with names to each 
day. (Norman on Yucatan, i. 85, and Trans, of American Ethnog. Soc., I. 
58.) And the week is not known to the Chinese, nor to the North Ameri 
can Indians (Catlin, II. 234) ; facts opposed to the idea of any universal 
primitive tradition. 

Allusions to a sanctity ascribed to the seventh day by the early Greek 


it by no means follows that, because the historian adopts a 
particular mode of reckoning, it was therefore used by the 
people of whom he is writing : but were it so, this would not 
imply the institution of the Sabbath. 

In all the early dispensations religious truths are conveyed 
under figures, and obligations enforced by motives, specially 
adapted to the capacities and wants of the parties addressed. 
Thus temporal prospects are always held out as the immediate 
sanctions ; and the mode of announcement adopted is always 
that in which God is represented as vouchsafing to enter into 
a covenant with his creatures ; the form is always that of a 

poets, such as the efidop-drr) eVeira KarijKvdfv iepbv rjp-ap of Homer, 
and like expressions of Callimachus, Hesiod, &c., are quoted by Clemens 
Alexandria (Strom., V.), and expressly described by him to have been 
derived from the Jews, with whose Scriptures so many parallelisms are 
found in the classic authors. 

Generally, however, the universal superstition of the sacredness of the 
number 7, combined with the equally common propensity to attach sanc 
tity to particular periods and days, are sufficient elements out of which 
such ideas would naturally take their rise. 

Among the ancient Romans festivals were held in honor of Saturn, 
with a reference to commemorating the Saturnian or Golden age, and 
with this idea it was unlawful on the day sacred to Saturn to go out to 
war (Macrobius, Lib. I. ; Saturn., c. 16), and it was held unlucky to 
commence a journey or undertake any business : a superstition alluded 
to by Tibullus (Elcg. I. 3, v. 18), " Saturni aut sacram me tenuisse 

What particular feast is here referred to there is nothing to show. The 
supposition of some of his commentators, that it meant the seventh day 
of the week, is wholly gratuitous. But if it were so, the idea would be 
naturally and obviously borrowed from the Jews, whose customs, espe 
cially the Sabbath, are so frequently alluded to by the Roman writers ; 
and, from their wide dispersion, must have been generally familiar, as in 
fact we learn from the boast of Josephus (Adv. Ap., II.) and of Philo, 
that " there is no place where the Sabbath is not known," and the testi 
mony of Theophilus Antiochus (Lib. II., Ad Arist.) to the same effect, as 
well as others often cited : which show the strict preservation of the ob 
servance among the scattered Jews ; and it may possibly have been con 
formed to by others, or the occasion laid hold of as convenient for other 
purposes : as, e. g., we are told by Suetonius (Lib. XXXII.), "Diogenes 
grammaticus disputare sabbatis Rhodi solitus." 


stipulation of certain conditions to be fulfilled, and certain 
blessings or punishments to be awarded as they are fulfilled 
or not ; and these conditions, always of a precise, formal, 
positive kind, not implying merely moral obligations. The 
spirit of all these covenants was that of " touch not, taste not, 
handle not" (Col. ii. 21), involving a ground and motive of 
obedience precisely adapted to the very infancy of the human 
race. Such was the very covenant with Adam in Paradise : 
" Eat not of the tree, or thou shalt die." Nor can it be 
denied that, if the Sabbath had formed a part of that covenant, 
it was an institution exactly in keeping with it : Eat not of 
the tree, keep holy the seventh day. The same idea of a 
covenanted stipulation of positive observances, in which sacri 
fice was the most prominent, characterizes all the succeeding 
announcements, from the covenant of circumcision with 
Abraham down to the more detailed and complete scheme of 
the Mosaic Law. 

In these early and imperfect dispensations it is idle to look 
for any great principles of universal moral application, as has 
been sometimes fancied : for instance, finding authority for 
capital punishment in the precept given to Noah (Gen. ix. 6), 
or for tithes in the example of Melchisedec (Gen xiv. 20). 
So far from perceiving any support for the idea, that because 
a precept or institution was from the beginning, it was there 
fore designed to be of universal and perpetual obligation, on 
the contrary, we rather see in its very antiquity a strong pre 
sumption that it was of a nature suited and intended only for 
the earliest stage of the religious development of man. 

But apart from these peculiarities, we trace all along the 
announcement of " the promise " (Gal. iii. 19), which was 
before the covenant, and to which the fathers looked as not 
transitory. Christianity, by fulfilling the promise, supersedes 
all previous imperfect dispensations: itself emphatically a 
New covenant, the very reverse of a recurrence to a primitive 
religion (as fancied by some). The patriarchs, and especially 
Abraham, are set forth as examples of faith in the promise ; 
and in this respect Christian believers are called children of 


Abraham (Gal. iii. 7) : but manifestly not in the sense of 
their retrograding to an older and less perfect state of things : 
the whole tenor of the Divine revelation is clearly stamped 
with the character of advance. 

U. The Judaical Law. 

The manifest design of the book of Genesis was not to 
tea ih us a primitive religion, but to form an introduction to 
the Law for the Jews. It has been well observed, that " to 
understand Genesis we must begin with Exodus " ; from the 
actual history and circumstances of the people we can best 
appreciate what their books spoke to them. 

Those events in the previous history are always selected 
and enlarged upon which have a direct reference to points in 
the subsequent institutions, or were anticipations of the Law, 
or the rudiments out of which its ordinances were framed. 

Thus, the narrative of the six days creation, first announced 
in the Decalogue, and afterwards amplified in Genesis, as has 
been already observed, can now only be regarded as an 
adaptation of a poetical cosmogony (doubtless already familiar 
to the Israelites) to the purpose of enforcing on them the in 
stitution of the Sabbath. And in like manner the other insti 
tutions of primeval worship (already adverted to) the 
sacrifices, the distinctions of clean and unclean animals, the 
prohibition of blood, and afterwards the appointment of 
circumcision, the choice of a peculiar people, the promise 
of Canaan form the prominent topics, as being the begin 
nings of the Mosaic covenant, and approximations towards 
the system of the Law. 

The object of the Law was declared to be, in the first in 
stance, to separate the people of Israel by peculiar marks and 
badges from all other nations, as a people chosen for the high 
ends and purposes of the Divine counsels (see especially 
Exod. xix. 5 ; xxxi. 13 - 17 ; Deut. xiv. 1 ; xxvi. 16 ; Ezek. 
xx. 9 - 12). This was to be effected especially by such dis 
tinctions as those of circumcision, the prohibition of inter 
marriages, or any participation with idolaters ; by all their 


exclusive usages and ceremonies, but chiefly by the marked 
singularity of the Sabbath, which, along with the Passover, 
was appointed earlier than the rest of the Law, and was em 
phatically declared (Exod. xxxi. 16 ; Ezek. xx. 12 ; Neh. ix. 
14, &c.) to be a distinctive sign between God and the people 
of Israel, which they were always to remember to keep up ; 
a peculiarity further evinced by its being always prominently 
coupled with the sanctity of the temple, the new moons and 
other feasts (Lev. xix. 30 ; Isa. i. 13 ; Ixvi. 23 ; Hos. ii. 11 ; 
Ezek. xlv. 17), and one of the pledges by which the proselyte 
was to take hold of the covenant (Isa. Ivi. 6). The directions 
for the mode of observing it were minute and strict ; and the 
precepts always precisely regard the observance, not of one 
day in seven, but of the seventh day of the week as such, in 
commemoration of the rest after the Creation,* though in one 
respect also it is afterwards urged as reminding them of their 
deliverance out of Egypt (Deut. v. 14). These distinctions 
constituted at once their security and their motives of obe 
dience. The Law throughout is a series of adaptations to them 
and their national peculiarities. 

Yet it js often spoken of as something general, as " a pre 
liminary education of the human race " ; f but the plain history 
discloses nothing but the training of one single people for a 
specific purpose. 

We see continued exemplifications of wise adaptation to 
the Jewish national mind in the entire mode of the delivery 
of the Law amid terrors, signs, and wonders ; and especially 
in the oral announcement of the Decalogue from Sinai ; while 
its consignment to tables of stone is expressly stated to be for 

* The Jewish Rabbis have always understood the institution to belong 
to the particular day of the cessation of the Creation, enjoined on the peo 
ple of Israel, as they say, " that they might fasten in their minds the be 
lief that the world had a beginning, which is a thread that draws after it 
all the foundations of the Law or principles of religion." (Eabbi Ltvi of 
Barcelona, quoted by Patrick, on Exod. xix.) The same idea occurs 
in a Jewish form of prayer quoted also by Patrick. 

t See Pusey on Rationalism, I. 156. 


a memorial or "testimony" (Exod. xxxi. 18; xxxiv. 29) to 
the covenant, of which these precepts constituted some of the 
more primary stipulations. And throughout the whole Law 
we trace equal adaptations in the form and manner of the 
precepts and injunctions : all minute and literal, not rising 
to any broad principles, which the Israelites at that time 
would have been incapable of comprehending. 

The distinction adopted by many modern divines between 
the "^ceremonial " and the " moral " law appears nowhere in 
the books of Moses. No one portion or code is held out as 
comprising the rules of moral obligation distinct and apart 
from those of a positive nature : such a distinction would have 
been unintelligible to them ; and " the Law " is always spoken 
of in Scripture as a whole, without reference to any such 
classification ; and the obligations of all parts of it, as of the 
same kind. 

In particular, what is termed the moral law is certainly 
in no way peculiarly to be identified with the Decalogue. 
Though moral duties, are specially enjoined in many places 
of the Law, yet the Decalogue certainly does not contain all 
moral duties, even by remote implication, and on the widest 
construction. It totally omits many such, as, e. g., beneficence, 
truth, justice, temperance, control of temper, and others ; and 
some moral precepts omitted here are introduced in other 

Equally in the Decalogue and the rest of the Law, we find 
precepts referring to what are properly moral duties scattered 
and intermixed with those of a positive and formal kind, and 
in no way distinguished from them in authority or impor 
tance ; but both connected with the peculiarities of the dis 
pensation, expressed in a form accompanied with sanctions 
and enforced by motives precisely adapted to the character 
and capacity of the people, and such as formed part of the 
exact stipulations of the covenant. 

Their duties were urged more generally in some passages 
(as, e. g., in Dent. xi. 21, 22 ; iv. 27, &c.) on the consid 
eration of national blessings ; in others on more particular 


grounds, such as the motives assigned for filial obedience 
(Exod. xx. 12) in a long life ; the recompense for benefi 
cence and equity (Prov. xix. 17 ; Ps. xli. 1 ; xxxvii. 25, 
&c.) ; the appeal to the dread of Divine vengeance (Exod. 
xxiv. 17; Deut. iv. 24; Isa. Ixvi. 16; Deut. iv. 31); and 
the remembrance of benefits conferred. In general their 
reward was to be found in obedience : to keep the statutes 
and ordinances was to be " their wisdom and their righteous 
ness " ; and the great maxim and promise was, " He that 
doeth these things shall live in them " (Deut. iv. 6 ; vi. 25 ; 
Lev. xviii. 5). 

The Law conformed to many points of human infirmity : it 
offered splendid rites and ceremonies to attract popular rever 
ence, and wean the people from their proneness to the gross 
ceremonies of idolatry. It indulged the disposition to observe 
" days, and times, and seasons " by the Sabbaths and feasts, 
and by occasional fasts, originally only a symbol of ordinary 
mourning, but afterwards invested with a religious character 
(Isa. Iviii. 5 ; Joel ii. 12). It commended avenging and san 
guinary zeal, especially in the punishment of blasphemers 
(Lev. xxiv. 14; Deut. xiii. 9). It sanctioned the " lex talio- 
nis" (Exod. xxi. 23), "life for life, eye for eye, tooth for 
tooth," that most perfect idea of retributive justice to the 
uncivilized mind ; and in general it connected the idea of 
punishment with that of vengeance, the most congenial to a 
barbarous apprehension. If it restricted marriages within 
certain degrees of kindred, it at least connived at polygamy ; 
and allowed a law of divorce suited " to the hardness of their 
hearts" (Matt. xix. 8). The Law altogether was established 
with a regard to the infirmity and blindness of the people, 
"in consideration to transgressions"* (Gal. iii. 19). 

While it prohibited idolatry, it represented the Deity under 
human similitudes, with human passions and bodily members, 

* This appears to me to be the proper force of the adverb \^P LV ^ cre 
used by the Apostle. From its etymology it must be supposed to imply 
" because of," in & favorable or indulging sense. It seems to correspond 
to Trpos in Matt. xix. 8. 


as, e. g., weary and resting from his work, angry, repenting, 
and jealous of other gods ; and designated more particularly 
as " Jehovah," the national God of Israel, &c. It is not one 
of the least remarkable of these anthropomorphisms that (as 
in former instances) the disclosure of the Divine purposes is 
made under the figure of Jehovah entering into a covenant 
with his people, an idea specially adapted to a nation of the 
lowest moral capacity. All points of duty were proposed 
under the form of precise stipulations, (just as in other times 
religious vows, temperance pledges, subscriptions to creeds, 
&c. have been adopted,) to keep a stronger hold on those in 
capable of higher motives. The immediate appeal to divine 
sanctions sensibly present, and the enforcement of moral 
duties under the form of a positive engagement, were pre 
cisely calculated to influence those who had no apprehension 
of pure principles of moral obligation, or of a higher spiritual 

Again, obedience was to be rewarded and sin to be visited 
by blessings or judgments on the posterity of the offender 
(Exod. xx. 5), not merely in the sense of the ordinary conse 
quences of good or bad conduct in the parents naturally in 
fluencing the fortunes of the children, but by a peculiar 
providential interposition. And in connection with this was 
another striking peculiarity of the covenant, that obedience 
and disobedience were both regarded as national, for which 
national rewards and judgments were to be awarded; the 
whole people in the aggregate being represented as possessing 
a collective and common responsibility. These peculiarities 
were obviously connected with the absence of those higher 
motives and sanctions which would be derived from the doc 
trine of a future state ; which clearly formtd no part of the 
covenant, even if believed by some pious and enlightened in 
dividuals, and in later times hinted at by the prophets. 

The obligations of the Law were strongly declared to be 
perpetual (as, e. g., Exod. xxxi. 17 ; Lev. xvi. 34 ; xxiv. 8 ; 
2 Kings xvii. 37, &c. ; Isa. Iv. 3), and the covenant everlast* 
%f> expressions which cannot now be taken literally. 


Its privileges might at all times be extended to strangers 
by their undergoing the initiatory rite. This was in later 
ages extensively realized (see Exod. xii. 48 ; comp. with Isa. 
Ivi. 6 ; and Deut. xxix. 11). 

The prophecies of the future extension of the Mosaic re 
ligion might in a first sense apply literally to this extension of 
proselytism, the coming in of remote nations to the Jewish 
church and worship, resorting to its temple, adopting its rites 
and offerings, and keeping its festivals and Sabbaths : as we 
know was in fact largely fulfilled before the introduction of 
the Gospel (Isa. Ivi. 3 ; Ixvi. 11, 12, 19 -23 ; Micah iv. 1 ; 
Zech. viii. 21 ; Amos ix. 11 ; comp. Acts ii. 5, &c.). 

These predictions are, however, also figuratively interpreted 
of the spread of the Gospel and the glories of the spiritual 
Zion. If so, all the particulars in the description must be 
interpreted by the same analogy ; if Israel and the temple be 
metaphorical, then the sacrifices, new moons, and Sabbaths 
must be so likewise ; if these latter are taken literally, we can 
only understand the whole literally, or we violate all rules of 
interpretation and analogy. 

The precision and formality of the Law were in some de 
gree extended and spiritualized by the Prophets. The words 
of Ezekiel (xviii. 3) have been understood as positively ab 
rogating the punishment of the posterity for the sins of the 
father ; and Isaiah (i. 13, &c.) strongly decries the sacrifices 
and Sabbaths. They also gave intimations that the Law was 
to ceme to an end, or rather to be superseded by a better and 
more spiritual covenant (Isa. ii. 2 ; Jer. xxxi. 31 ; Ezek. 
xxxvi. 25 ; Mai. iv. 2-6). Malachi, the last, connects the 
two dispensations, looking backwards to Moses and for 
wards to Christ and his forerunner. 

John the Baptist was the minister of an intermediate or 
preparatory dispensation. He accordingly recognized all ex 
isting obligations, but reproved hypocrisy and formality, and 
urged repentance and its practical fruits (Luke iii. 10 - 14 ; 
Matt. iii. 7). He more especially announced the kingdom of 
heaven as at hand, and pointed to Jesus as " the Christ," " the 


Lamb of God " who should bring it in (John i. 27, 29), and 
a take away the sin of the world." 

HL The Teaching of Christ. 

In the teaching of Jesus we find no repeal of an old dis 
pensation to introduce a new ; but a gradual method of prep 
aration by spiritual instruction for a better system. 

During his ministry on earth, the kingdom of heaven was 
still only " at hand " and " to come " (Mark i. 15 ; Matt. vi. 
10). Serious misconceptions often arise from applying his 
instructions without remembering that he was himself em 
phatically " made under the Law " (Gal. iv. 4), and address 
ing those under it as still in force. 

To the Jews in general he inculcated moral and spiritual 
duties ; not any change in existing grounds and principles, but 
reform in practice. He censured severely the hypocrisy and 
ostentation of the Pharisees and their followers ; their exces 
sive minuteness even in matters ordained, and their " making 
of none effect " the divine law by human additions (Mark vii. 
13). Yet he offered no disparagement to the Law as such. 
While he insisted on its weightier matters, he would not have 
its lesser points neglected (Matt, xxiii. 23). He enlarged its 
spirit, yet acknowledged its letter as the rule still in force on 
the Jews. His own example was emphatic. His plain 
declaration implies none of those refined distinctions which 
have been sometimes drawn as to the meaning of the terms 
" destroy" and "fulfil" (Matt. v. 17) ; to quiet the apprehen 
sions of the Jews as to his having a design hostile to the Law 
and the Prophets, he assures them that the very aim of his 
life was to obey it in every particular, "to fulfil," in their 
phrase, " all righteousness" (Matt. iii. 15). And so his Jew 
ish followers were exhorted to " keep the commandments " if 
they " would enter into life " (Matt. xix. 17) ; and doing so, 
they were " not far from the kingdom of God " (Mark xii. 
34), though not yet in it. Not the least of the commandments 
was to be broken ; no part of its force to fail during that age 
or dispensation (Matt. v. 18). 


Thus far in general : in more special instances we find him 
upholding the authority of the existing church and its teach 
ers, and the appeal to its tribunals (Matt, xxiii. 1 ; xviii. 1 7). 
He recognized the Mosaic law of marriage and divorce, and 
though he limited the latter more strictly (Matt. xix. 8), it 
was to repress the gross abuse of it which then prevailed ; 
and this only under an express reference to what was the 
original design of the institution from the authority of the 
books of Moses. 

He referred to fasting as an existing rite under the Law, 
though sternly reproving the hypocritical and ostentatious 
performance of it (Matt. vi. 18 ; comp. Isa. Iviii. 5). In the 
same terms he censured formality and ostentation in almsgiv 
ing and prayer (Matt. vi. 1 - 5) ; and taught that offerings at 
the altar were not to be omitted, though reconciliation was 
of more importance (Matt. v. 23). 

He particularly and repeatedly reproved the Pharisaical 
moroseness in the observance of the Sabbath : himself wrought 
cures on it, and vindicated works of charity and necessity 
(Matt. xii. 1) ; yet only by such arguments and examples as 
ihe Jewish teachers themselves allowed, and their own Scrip 
tures afforded authority for. But he did not in any way 
modify or abolish it, or substitute any other for it, though he 
fully asserted his power to do so ; and expressly urged upon 
them the consideration that it was made for " the man " * (i. e. 
those to whom it was appointed), and not " the man " for it ; 
as an institution of a permanent kind connected with the 
moral ends of man s being ; adapted to the parties for whom 
it was designed, but having nothing in its nature of unchange 
able or general obligation to which mankind were to conform. 

He defeated insidious questions by an appeal to the Law 
itself: " What is written? " (Luke x. 26 ; Mark x. 3, &c.) ; 
and taking occasion from a point disputed among them, 
he enforced the two great commandments (Matt. xxii. 37 ; 

* This is clearly the force of the original (Mark ii, 27), fiw TO v ai* 



comp. with Deut. vi. 5 ; Lev. xix. 18 ; Matt. vii. 12 ; Tobit 
iv. 15) as the sum of the Law and the Prophets, and in general 
urged obedience on the very principle and promise of the 
Law itself: " Do this, and thou shalt live " (Luke x. 28 ; Rom. 
x. 3 ; Gal. iii. 12 ; comp. with Lev. xviii. 5 ; Ezek. xx. 11 ; 
Neh. ix. 29). 

He took the Decalogue as the text of his instructions to the 
Jews (Mark x. 19 ; Matt. v. 21, &c. ; xix. 16, &c.) ; and 
made many enlargements upon it : giving them new precepts 
expressly in addition to it, and not as unfoldiny anything 
already contained or implied in it, and expressly contrasting 
his own teaching with what " was said of old." But we find 
no modification or softening of the Law, no repeal of one part 
and retaining another, as is often imagined. 

Christ s teaching during his ministry was plainly but pre 
liminary and preparatory to the establishment of the new dis 
pensation. His general discourses were simply practical, yet 
with an obvious peculiarity of adaptation to the ideas of the 
Jewish people. " The mysteries of the kingdom " were veiled 
in parables to the multitude, explained to the disciples in 
private, and understood only by those who " had ears to hear " 
(Matt. xiii. 9-17). During his ministry "the kingdom of 
heaven suffered violence " (Matt. xi. 12), the more enlight 
ened partially understood it, and the strong in spirit forced 
an entrance. 

He pointed to the necessity of a new beginning from first 
principles (Matt. ix. 17 ; xviii. 1), for becoming as little chil 
dren ; holding out the prospect of a progressive enlighten 
ment (John viii. 31), urging the Jews especially to search 
their own Scriptures (John v. 39), (those in which ye think 
ye have eternal life,) in support of his claims, and insisting 
especially on a new and higher " regeneration " than that ac 
knowledged by the Rabbis (John iii. 3). 

He repeatedly declared his mission to be only to the House 
of Israel. In some few instances, indeed, Gentiles came to 
him ; but no distinct instruction was given, except in the one 
remarkable case of the woman of Samaria, which is peculiar- 


ly important as being the only distinct reference in Christ s 
teaching to the new dispensation as extending to the Gentiles, 
and the termination of the old with respect to the Jews (John 
iv. 21). 

According to the whole system disclosed in the New Testa 
ment, it is clear that Christ s kingdom could not properly begin 
till after his death and resurrection (Luke xxiv. 46). Its ex 
tension to all nations, though more than once hinted at in his 
discourses (Matt. viii. 11 ; John x. 16, &c.), and indirectly 
figured out in several of the parables, was not positively an 
nounced till the final charge was given to the Apostles (Matt, 
xxviii. 19 ; Mark xvi. 16 ; Luke xxiv. 47 ; Acts i. 8). 

IV. The Teaching of the Apostles. 

The preaching of the Apostles in the first instance was 
confined to Jews and proselytes, who continued under the Law 
and in the worship of the synagogue, simply adding the belief 
iii Jesus as the Messiah, and joining in Christian communion. 

The Apostles themselves conformed to the Law in all par 
ticulars, even St. Paul, while he claimed the liberty of doing 
otherwise ; and St. Peter was reproached with inconsistency 
in deviating from it even in one point (Acts xxi. 24; Gal. 
ii. 11). 

The first great step was the announcement of the abolition 
of the separation between Jew and Gentile, commenced in 
the commission to Peter to convert Cornelius (Acts x. 34). 
Yet in fact Christianity was long confined chiefly to Jews or 
proselytes, or Gentile converts from among those who had 
previously in some degree conformed to the Law. In address 
ing such parties the appeal would be naturally made to the 
Old Testament as furnishing proofs of Christianity. 

Of the preaching to the Samaritans nothing is recorded, 
but it was doubtless accordant with the words of Christ to the 
Samaritan woman, and could involve little reference to Jewish 

When purely Gentiles, or heathens, were addressed, there 
is no evidence or instance of any reference being made to 


Old Testament authority, to the Law as preliminary to tlie 
Gospel, or to any supposed primitive religion, as to a sort of 
prior, but forgotten, obligation. The appeal was (in all the 
few cases recorded) to the natural evidences of one God, to 
the moral law of conscience, and then directly to the fact of 
Christ s resurrection and its consequences. Such was the 
tenor of St. Paul s discourse at Lystra and at Athens (Acts 
xvii. 22 ; xiv. 17), and such the purport of his whole elabo 
rate argument in the beginning of the Epistle to the Romans 
(Rom. i. 18 ; ii. 14, &c.), where he positively and pointedly 
makes his appeal to the Gentiles, not on the ground of the 
revealed law, but solely on that of natural reason and con 
science. And just as he referred the Jews to their Scrip 
tures, so, to enforce his argument with authorities to the hea 
then, he quotes their own poets (Acts xvii. 28 ; 1 Cor. xv. 33 ; 
Tit. i. 12). 

The omission of any reference to previous obligations 
(which, if they had existed, were certainly unknown) is em 
phatic. Any supposed universal law given to the Patriarchs 
would clearly have required to be revived, but no intimation 
or evgn allusion of the kind is to be found in the records of 
the Apostolic teaching. Such a reference, for example, was 
manifestly requisite for any revival of a primeval Sabbath, 
had it been contemplated ; but it is needless to say, no such 
intimation can be found. The only allusion to the subject at 
all is addressed to the Hebrews (Heb. iv. 4), and the turn of 
the allusion is figurative and obviously quite different. 

The very natural belief of the Jews, that the Gentiles were 
incapable of justification, except through conformity to the 
covenant of circumcision, at a very early period led to attempts 
to impose the Law on Gentile converts (Acts xv. 1 - 28), until 
the Apostolic decree finally settled the question, in which cer 
tain observances only are retained and prescribed, described 
as practically "necessary" from the circumstances of the 
times : the omission of all others, as meats, Sabbaths, &c., is 
emphatic, as well as the absence of any recognition, whether 
generally of the Law as such, or of any previous dispensation, 


or of any part of it, or an enlarged or modified view of its 
precepts to be made the rule of Christian obedience. But 
so inveterate were the prepossessions of the Jews, that later 
attempts of this kind were continually made, which called 
forth the special censures of St. Paul, and the strongest argu 
ments against these notions so destructive to the real spirit of 
the Gospel, such as form the main purport of his Epistles to 
the Galatians and Colossians, of material portions of those to 
the Romans, and the Second to the Corinthians (as, e. g., 
2 Cor. iii., &c.), and of scattered declarations in nearly all. 

Hence the expression Christian " liberty " obviously applies 
only by way of contrast to the particular instance of Judaiz- 
ing, while the assurance " ye are not under the Law, but under 
grace," (the necessity for which arose solely from the same 
cause,) is most carefully guarded against any such misapplica 
tion as would sanction sin, any tendency to the preposterous 
doctrine of Antinomianism (Rom. vi. 1, 14). No such lan 
guage need have been used with respect to Gentile converts 
but for such attempts at enslaving them. The Apostle ad 
dressed distinctly both those " under the Law," the Jews, 
and those " not under the Law," the Gentiles ; the former 
generally were still under it, though they might have been 
released from it. But the latter could not be released from 
that to which they had never been subject. To say that they 
were free from the law of the Hebrews was indeed true, but 
superfluous ; they needed not to be told so ; what was to bring 
them under it ? certainly not the Gospel. 

The strong feeling of the Jews with respect to the distinc 
tion of circumcision appears, however, very reasonable; it 
was not a mere national prejudice, but arose purely out of the 
belief in the Divine authority of the covenant, and to them 
seemed to involve all the other obligations of the Law, not to 
be abrogated without the loss of that distinction. Hence the 
difficulty of the argument with them. It is, however, con 
ducted with consummate skill by the Apostle, directing his 
reasoning with admirable effect, so 0s at once to bear on the 
case of the Gentiles, and with equal force on that of the Jews, 


m a way which they must acknowledge as conclusive on their 
own principles (as in Rom. xi. 13, &c.). 

He maintained himself a compliance with the ordinances 
yet subsisting: "to the Jews he became a Jew," as "under 
the Law " ; to the Gentiles as " without the Law " (1 Cor. ix. 
20) : but this was no deceptive assumption, since he actually 
was in one sense both. 

The distinction of meats, clean or unclean, of days to be 
kept holy or not, remained actually in force to the Jewish 
Christians until their convictions became sufficiently enlight 
ened to see the abolition of those distinctions. To the Gen 
tile it was equally clear that they were not obligatory on him, 
while his service was a spiritual one in faith. In Sabbaths 
and meats each might judge for himself (Rom. xiv. 5, 6) ; 
there was no moral immutable obligation, but neither was to 
judge the other. Both acting in faith were exhorted to mu 
tual charity, a line of conduct pre-eminently recommended by 
the Apostle s own example (1 Cor. x. 23 ; viii. 13, &c.). But 
there was no compromise of essential truths ; we cannot but 
be struck with the contrast of the Apostle s liberality of sen 
timent with his strenuous assertion of Christian freedom. 
"Christ crucified" (1 Cor. i. 25) was preached alike to Jew 
and Greek, the Author of Salvation equally to those under 
the Law and those without it (Rom. xv. 8, 9). 

To both parties it was argued that they stood equally con 
demned in the sight of God. The Gentiles were expressly 
shown to be in this state of condemnation from their own 
moral depravity, not from any sentence of a covenant which 
their remote forefathers had broken, as some have fancied. 
Setting aside the total unreasonableness of such an imagina 
tion, nothing can be more clear or positive than the argument 
of St. Paul, that they stood condemned expressly without any 
such revealed law, and solely by their violation of the law of 
conscience, written by natural light in their hearts (Rom. ii. 
15). Still less were they to be awakened by any terrors of 
the law of Sinai given to the Jews. 

On the other hand, the Jew stood condemned because he 


had transgressed the law of revelation, which he acknowl 
edged to be holy, and just, and good, and in which he believed 
himself justified. St. Paul therefore expressly argues, that 
he was not only not justified, but positively condemned, by that 
very Law in which he trusted and made his boast, which " he 
approved " and " served with his mind " ; yet in truth, " with 
his flesh he served sin " (Rom. vii. 25, &c.).* The difficulty 
was to convince the Jew, that he stood condemned by his own 
law ; that " by it he had the knowledge of sin," that " the 
strength of sin was the Law," but the victory in Christ. 

Both being thus alike under condemnation, though by differ 
ent laws, it followed that both were to be accepted and justi 
fied on another, a new and common ground, that of faith in 
Jesus Christ ; and the grand point thus was, that the line of 
separation was removed; all distinctions were merged and 
lost in the greater privilege now conferred by the Gospel, " of 
the twain was made one new man" (Eph. ii. 11 -22 ; 1 Cor. 
vii. 19; Gal. vi. 15; Col. iii. 11), Christ was to be all and 
in all. 

Christ redeemed the Jews " from the curse of the Law " 
(Gal, iii. 15 ; iv. 3) ; the Gentile "from all iniquity" (Tit. ii. 
14). Both were called to repentance and faith, but on differ 
ent grounds ; both led, though by different ways, to moral 
duties ; to the Jew obedience was " the fulfilment of the Law " 
(Gal. v. 14; Rom. xiii. 8), "the end of the commandment" 
(1 Tim. i. 5), "the pure service" (James i. 27 [Bprjo-Kfla]}, 
" the royal law according to the Scripture " (James ii. 8) ; to 
the Gentile without any such reference it was simply "the 
things just, and pure, and true" (Phil. iv. 3), in accordance 
with the natural moral sense ; to " live soberly, righteously, 
and godly" (Tit. ii. 12) ; to walk "honestly " (Rom. xiii. 13) ; 
but all this based on the high and peculiar motives of Chris 
tian faith. 

To the Jews the grounds of Christian obligation were often 

* Such at least appears to me to tje the real and plnin tenor of this 
chapter, so often imagined difficult to rescue from the eager grasp of the 


represented and enforced by analogies drawn from the Old 
Testamt nt. Thus the Gospel itself is by analogy, and with 
especial reference to the words of the Prophets, called a 
covenant (Heb. viii. 6; comp. Jer. xxxi. 31): not implying 
that there was really any covenant, but only that it stood in 
the same relation to Christians as the covenant did to the Jews ; 
sin ;e it is expressly distinguished (indeed the whole argument 
of the Apostle turns on the distinction, Gal. iii. 18)* as not 
really a covenant, BUT A FREE PROMISE AND GIFT ; not the 
act or deed of two parties as a compact, but of one as a gift 
or a testament. 

The Jew was to be brought gradually to see his deliverance 
from the "bondage" (Gal. iv. 25; 2 Cor. iii. 6-14; Heb. 
xii. 18) of Sinai, effected by his increasing faith and knowl 
edge, supported by the arguments from Abraham (Gal. iii. 6; 
Rom. iv. I), and the Prophets (Hab. ii. 9 ; Heb. vii. 18) ; 
" the Law being his schoolmaster to bring him to Christ " (Gal. 
iii. 24). The Law ceased at no one time, but to each indi 
vidual as his belief and enlightenment progressively emanci 
pated him (Rom. xiv. l-6).f It was never formally re 
scinded : it died a natural death. 

Wherever the cessation ot the Law is spoken of, it is as a 
whole, without reference to moral or ceremonial, letter or 
spirit. We find no such distinction as that " the Law, as being 
of Moses, was abrogated, yet, as the Law of the Spirit, still 
binding " ; } the language of St. Paul is utterly opposed to 
any such idea, 

But if all this had been otherwise, it would little concern 
us ; the Law should be contemplated as a national and local, 

* The obscurity of the passage is admitted ; but what I have here 
stated appears to me to be the real tenor of it, though fully aware of the 
existence of difference of opinion among commentators. 

t The Rabbis held that distinctions of meats and even the Law itself 
were to cease when the Messiah came, as also the Sabbath, arguing ex 
pressly from Isa. Ixvi. 23. (R. Samuel, in Talmud, in titulo Nidr. 
Cited by Grotius de Ver., V. 9, 10.) 

t See Life of Dr. Arnold, I. 355. 


rather than i*s a temporary dispensation ; for, had it not been 
temporary, it would still have been restricted to one people : 
the Gentiles would have had no part or concern in its con 
tinuance (unless as becoming proselytes to it), nor had they 
in its cessation. Christianity as addressed to the Gentiles was 
not founded on Judaism : * nor does it imply any substitution 
of one obligation for another : it stands simply on its own 
ground : the essential character of its institutions is indepen 
dent. Its few observances were hi fact at first adopted along 
with those of Mosaism, by the churches " of the circum 
cision," who formed so large a part of the early Christian 

From this circumstance the teaching of the Apostles would 
necessarily exhibit a large infusion of Judaical ideas ; and 
we accordingly find them introducing a multitude of adapta 
tions of passages from the Old Testament ; besides maxims 
and proverbial sayings (e. g. Rom. xii. 20 ; James v. 20 ; 
1 Pet. iv. 8) and forms of expression, habitual among the 
Jews, which sometimes, mistaken for original sentiments, lead 
to serious misconceptions. Their reasonings would naturally 
be built upon opinions currently received, and on appeals to 
the Jewish Scriptures, of undeniable force to those who 
recognized its authority; and the introduction of analogies 
and applications of the incidents and language of the Old 
Testament (e. g. Rom. vii. 1 ; Eph. vi. 1 ; 1 Pet. iii. 10 ; 
1 Tim. v. 18) for the instruction of converts who could only 
be convinced through such associations of the new truths with 
the old. 

# See the whole paragraph in Ignatius (partially quoted at the begin 
ning of this essay) for an eloquent exposition of this idea. It includes 
a passage which, as I think most unnecessarily, has been the subject of 
much discussion, as supposed to allude to the Lord s day ; but it appears 
to rne that the simple sense of KvpiaKr] 0077 is " the Lord s life," which 
was to become the pattern of the spiritual life of those Jewish converts 
who saw their emancipation from the Law, and therefore lived pqiecrt 
(raj3[3a.TiovTs, aXXa Kara KvpiaKrjv fanv S)vrfs- See my article 
" LORD S DAT," in Kitto s Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature. 


It is in this way only that the Apostle Paul sanctions any 
use of the Old Testament Scriptures ; as in the practical and 
typical accommodation of passages to points of Christian in 
struction (Rom. xv. 4 ; 1 Cor. x. 1, &c.). It was thus that 
even to Timothy the Old Testament was still to be " profit 
able," but only when applied " through faith in Jesus Christ " 
(2 Tim. iii. 15). And thus St. Peter (the very Apostle of 
the circumcision) commend^ the use of the prophetical writ 
ings, only as preparatory and auxiliary to the Gospel (2 Pet. 
i. 19). 

The more we consider the nature of the precise points of 
analogy dwelt upon, the more we perceive the independent 
spiritual characteristics of the Gospel to which they point ; as 
in the typical application of "the temple to the body of Christ, 
and thence to the community of Christians (1 Cor. iii. 1C); 
of Jerusalem to that which is above (Gal. iv. 26 ; Heb. xii. 
22) ; the laver to regeneration (Tit. iii. 5, \ovrp6v ; Exod. 
xxx. 18, &c.) ; the altar and sacrifices primarily to the death 
of Christ (Heb. xiii. 10; x. 1, &c.) ; and thence in a lower 
sense to almsgiving (Ileb. xiii. 16 ; Phil. iv. 18) ; to praise ; 
to the reasonable service of Christians (Rom. xii. 1 ; Heb. 
xi. 20) ; the priesthood primarily to the person and office of 
Christ, though, in a secondary sense, to all Christians (1 Pet, 
ii. 9) ; circumcision to purity of heart (Deut. x. 16 ; xxx. 6 ; 
Jer. iv. 4 ; Rom. ii. 29 ; Col. ii. 11) ; the anointing to grace 
(1 John ii. 20) ; the Sabbath to the rest reserved for the 
faithful (Heb. iv. 9). In after times the same desire of adap 
tation without apostolic warrant, and carried often to extrav 
agant lengths, led to a larger use of the Old Testament 
among Christian writers, and the spirit of allegorizing and 
evangelizing all parts of it. The Apostles arguments and 
representations, misunderstood from want of consideration of 
the circumstances, and appeals ad hominem taken positively, 
in modern times have become subjects of endless mistake and 

But in the Apostles teaching we find no dependence recog 
nized of the one system on the other ; no such idea as that of 


a transference of Old Testament ordinances to Christianity ; 
or the fulfilment of one in the other : for example, we find no 
appeal to the Old Testament for the basis of marriage, the 
reference of St. Paul (Eph. v. 31 ; 1 Cor. vii. 2) to the pri 
meval precepts being made only incidentally, and the Chris 
tian institution essentially grounded on a different principle ; 
we perceive no carrying on of the priesthood in the Christian 
ministry (which was derived front the officers of the syna 
gogue, not of the temple) * ; no continuation of sacrifices in the 
Lord s supper, or of the Sabbath in the Lord s day (charitable 
collections were made on the first day of the week,f 1 Cor. 
xvi. 2), precisely because it was not the Sabbath, on which 
they were unlawful. 

Yet, from a misconception of points of analogy in such 
cases, often directly at variance with the express words of the 
Apostles, opinions have prevailed on these and the like points 
tending not a little to perplex and impair the simplicity of the 

All the essentially Christian institutions were independent 
and simple. We must carefully distinguish from the more 
essential and permanent, some minor ordinances of a purely 
temporary and occasional character, which certainly bear a 
more formal appearance ; but were evidently adopted for the 
sake of peace and union, and especially for the great objects 
of mutually conciliating the Jewish and Gentile converts, or 
from a wish not abruptly to violate existing customs ; as, e. g., 
the injunctions in the apostolic decree (Acts xv.), already 
referred to ; and some of those given by St. Paul to the 
church at Corinth (as throughout 1 Cor. v., vi., and vii.), and 
to Timoty (1 Tim. v., &c.). 

The same may be said of the practice of fasting (see Acts 

* See Vitringa, De Synagogd, of which valuable work an excellent 
abridged translation has been published by the Rev. J. L. Bernard. 
London. 1842. 

t Cocceius, quoted by Vitringa, says : " This was ordained on the 
first day of the week, as being regarded non ut festum sed ut epydo-tpov." 
See Bernard s Vitringa, pp. 75 and 167. 


xiii. 2) ; there does not exist a single precept or hint for its 
general adoption by Christians, much less is there any sanc 
tion for other ascetic observances, which soon claimed an 
availing merit utterly at variance with the spirit of the Gospel. 
So far as they had begun to prevail, they met with unequiv 
ocal censure (Col. ii. 18 - 23 ; 1 Tim. iv. 3, 8) from St. Paul. 
Of other institutions of Christian worship, very little can be 
collected from the New Testament. At first the disciples met 
daily for prayer and communion (Acts ii. 26). In one in 
stance afterwards it may be implied that they assembled 
peculiarly on the first day of the week (Acts xx. 7) ; and in 
the latest period of the New Testament age " the Lord s day " 
is spoken of once, but wholly without explanation (Rev. 
i. 10). 

The ministry and. form of church government were bor 
rowed directly from the synagogues, which were actually the 
churches of the Jewish converts. Certain peculiar regula 
tions also were connected with the extraordinary gifts (Mark 
xvi. 17), as temporal visitations (1 Cor. xi. 30, &c.), and the 
power of inflicting them (1 Cor. v. 5), and the anointing of 
the sick (James v. 14, comp. with Mark xvi. 18, and vi. 13). 

Christianity, as indeed it is hardly conceivable should have 
been otherwise, was at first communicated and established in 
the way of adaptation in its outward form to existing ideas 
and conditions. Thus it won its way at first according to the 
economic dispensations of divine grace ; while its spiritual 
essence asserted its internal influence over the disciple who 
had the capacity to receive it ; and under whatever outward 
aspect, the words of Christ were verified, " The kingdom of 
heaven is within you." 

V. Subsequent Views of the Law and the Gospel. 

The tendency to engraft Judaism in a greater or less degree 
on Christianity in the early Church, the steps by which such a 
system advanced and gained ground, and the extent to which 
it was carried, are not difficult to trace or to explain. But 
the peculiar turn which has been given to somewhat similar 



ideas in modern times is, apparently, much less easy to justify 
or account for on any rational principles. 

The constant appeals of the Apostles to the Old Testament 
in their arguments with the Jews were doubtless of the most 
primary importance and convincing cogency with those they 
addressed ; to the Gentiles they would not have been so ; yet 
the peculiar character and result of the appeal was, no doubt, 
felt to be precisely that of valuable testimony extorted from an 
adverse party, and brought to support our cause, and there 
fore in constantly exhibiting which a sort of triumph is felt. 

Hence the more general introduction in the early Church, 
even among the Gentiles, of the Old Testament Scriptures, 
and the prominence given to them, which continued by custom 
Ion" 1 after the original occasion had ceased. 

But, for the Gentile converts, with the broad distinction 
between themselves and the Jewish churches before their 
eyes, this reference to the Jewish Scriptures could not by 
possibility degenerate into such inconsistent notions of their 
application as would suppose Gentile Christians brought unde 
the obligations of the old precepts. 

Without direct Judaizing, however, the gradual adoption 
of some Judaical forms in Christian worship naturally arose 
out of the synagogal model on which all the first churches 
were framed. And it would not be a matter of surpnsi 
occasionally, Judaical ideas should have been thus mixed up 
with Christian doctrines, institutions, and practices, even to a 
greater degree than we find was the case. 
The Jewish converts continued, along with their other pe 
culiarities, to observe the Sabbath, which, it is hardly neces 
sary to say, the Gentiles did not. From an early period it 
seems probable that both Jewish and Gentile churches had 
becmn to hold religious assemblies on the first day of the 
week. But it is from Justin Martyr* (A. D. 140) that we 

- * Justin., Apol i. 67. For other authorities cm this point the reader 
is referred to my article, LOBD S DAY," in Kitto s Cyclopedia /* 
lical Literature. 


first learn the regular establishment of this practice, as well 
as its professed ground and object ; as being the day on which 
the work of creation was begun, and on which also the new 
spiritual creation was commenced by the resurrection of 
Christ. Other writers * adopt more fanciful analogies, refer 
ring to the Mosaic creation ; yet always distinctly such as to 
exclude all idea of any reference to a primitive Sabbath (had 
they believed in it), which would have been an entire con 
fusion of ideas between the day of the commencement of the 
creation and that of its cessation. 

In the course of the first few centuries many corruptions 
had crept in ; and we then for the first time trace some in 
creasing precision in the observance of the Lord s day, upheld 
in certain expressions of Tertullian f (A. D. 200), Dionysius 
of Corinth (somewhat later), Clement of Alexandria,]: Hilary, 
and others. 

These writers speak of the Lord s day in conjunction with 
the Sabbath, but always in the way of contrast, and as ob 
viously distinct institutions. And doubtless, with the view of 
conciliating the Judaizing churches it was that the celebration of 
both days was afterwards enjoined, both in the so-called Apos 
tolic Constitutions || (a forgery of the fourth century), and by 
Constantino,^ who first prohibited business on the Lord s day, 

* In the spurious Epistle of Barnabas (which, as generally allowed a 
forgery of the second or third century, may be taken as evidence of 
views then held) the writer makes out a comparison of the six days of 
the Creation with six ages of the world, followed by a seventh of rest 
under the Gospel, to which is to succeed an eighth of final triumph, and 
" therefore," he adds, " we keep the eighth day with joy, on which also 
Jesus rose from the dead." (Ep. I. 15.) 

t De Orat. 23. t Strom. VII 744. 

Comm. in Psalm. Prol. \\ Apost. Const. VII. 24. 

t Euseb. IV. De Vit. Const. 18. See also Jortin s Remarks, III. 326. 
A singular exemplification of the continuance of this twofold observ 
ance, carried out even to a great degree of rigor, and preserved to mod 
ern times, has been presented in the discovery by Major Harris of an 
ancient Judaized Christian church in the interior of Ethiopia. Some 
thing similar has also been noticed by Mr. Grant among the Nestorians 
in Armenia. 


with a special exception in favor of the labors of agriculture. 
The Council of Laodicea,* however, took an opposite tone, 
and censured the Sabbath, while it enjoined the Lord s day. 

But though a certain kind of assimilation between the two 
institutions was carried farther by some later writers, yet 
neither was the observance itself pushed to the extent which 
has since been sometimes contended for ; nor was it possible 
for that confusion of ideas between the two institutions to 
arise which in modern times has occasionally prevailed ; and 
still less was such a notion as that of any transfer of the obli 
gations of the one to the other, or any change in the day, ever 

Down to later times we trace some remains of the observ 
ance of the Sabbath in the solemnization of Saturday as the 
eve or vigil of the Lord s day. 

The constant reference to the Old Testament law on the 
part of the Jewish converts not unnaturally led to the disposi 
tion to find for it at least some sort of allegorical application 
to the Gentiles. Thus, guided possibly by the figurative 
language of the Apostle (Heb. iv. 4), and the fondness for 
what they termed evangelizing the Old Testament, some of 
the Fathers adopted the idea of a metaphorical interpretation 
of the fourth commandment (where, of course, the literal 
sense could not apply) in the case of Gentile converts, as 
meaning the perpetual service of a Christian life. J 

More generally, the practice of introducing even thus in 
directly the sanctions of the Old Testament in later times 

* Counc. of Laodicea, Can. XXIX. 

t Yet so inveterate has this absurd idea become in the minds of mod 
ern divines, that even so acute and independent a writer as Bishop War- 
burton, arguing too expressly against the Sabbatists, speaks inciden 
tally of " a change in the day having been made by the primitive Church," 
which it most assuredly never was (Div. Leg. IV. 34, note.) 

$ Thus Justin Martyr (Dial, cum Trypho, 229) says, 2a/3/3tmVii 
Tinas 6 Kaivbs vopos SiaTrai/ros etfe Xei. And later, to the same effect, 
Augustine (Ep. 119) observes, "Inter omnia decem praecepta solum 
ibi quod de sabbato positum est figurate observandam prascipitur," 


began to assume the character of a more direct habitual ac 
knowledgment of its authority. And in the earlier stage of 
the Reformation, some more precise theories of this kind found 
ready support in the extravagant notions of the literal appli 
cations of Scripture into which the violent reaction of opinions 
carried a portion of the Reformers, involving very peculiar 
notions of what was termed " the moral law " of the Old Tes 
tament, and the obligation of the Sabbath as a chief point and 
instance of it : a phrase, the very use of which betrays some 
confusion of thought, and has been at the root of all the 
popular errors on the subject. 

The main outline of the theory seems to have been this : 
it was held that the Old Testament, and more especially the 
Decalogue, was designed to convey a revelation of the moral 
law to all mankind ; that this law, without reference to any 
anterior distinctions of natural morality or the like, derives its 
whole force and obligation from the sole will of God positively 
declared, and is to be found specially summed up in these 
precise commandments ; that all men are really subject to it 
even though in ignorance of it, whether Jews or Gentiles ; 
but all, even when endeavoring to live by it, are in a state of 
bondage and stand condemned by it : from this bondage and 
condemnation the Gospel by grace and faith releases them, 
and they are then free from the law of works, and enjoy 
" Christian liberty." And there are not wanting some who 
pushed this idea still further, and would in fact make this 
freedom involve a release from the obligations of morality ; 
which is indeed no more than a direct consequence, if moral 
obligations are derived from no other source than those 
positive commandments. Such was the consistent theory 
of Antinomianism, a theory which might appear startling 
to those not versed in theological systems, but which re 
ceived obvious proof from the literal application of Scripture 

But against such tenets of legal and sabbatical formalism, 
Luther, with his accustomed masterly grasp of the breadth 
and depth of evangelical principles, most strenuously con 


tended,* as did also Calvin, f especially denouncing the notion 
of the moral obligation of the Sabbath as one of the " follies 
of false prophets " (nugse pseudo-prophetarum), more forcibly 
still in his French version, as " mensonges des iaux docteurs." 
Calvin also appears once to have had an intention of fixing 
the day of Christian worship on Thursday, as he said, " to 
evince Christian liberty " ; and in a similar spirit Tindal says, 
" We are lords of the Sabbath, and may change it to Monday 
01 any other day, or appoint every tenth day, or two days hi 
a \\ eek, as we find it expedient." \ The idea of changing a 
Divine institution, if obligatory at all, still shows some of the 
common confusion prevailing in the Reformer s mind. 

The complete doctrine of an identification of the Lord s 
day with the Sabbath seems to have been first formally pro 
pounded by Dr. Bound (1595), a divine of great authority 
among the Puritans, from whom it was adopted by the 
Westminster Assembly in their Confession, and thence has 
become a recognized tenet of the Scottish and other Presby 
terian communions in Great Britain and America, though as 
wholly unknown to the Continental Protestants as to the old 
unreformed Church. 

In later times this idea has been variously modified. Some, 
acting up to the commandment in strictness, consistently keep 
holy the seventh day of the week. Many adopt the distinc 
tion of the Jewish Sabbath, though we can find but one Sab 
bath mentioned in the Bible, or speak of the Christian Sab 
bath, an institution wholly without warrant in the Christian 
Scriptures. Some turn away from all such distinctions, as 
mere questions of words and names. It is indeed wholly un 
important by what name we choose to designate anything; 
but it is important that we are not misled by the name to mis 
take the thing. 

It is, however, a tenet nowhere inculcated in the authorized 
formularies of the Church of England. Th* Decalo<nie in- 

* Comm. on GaL iv. 8 - 11. f l**tit., II. c. 8, 28 - 34. 

$ Reply to Sir T. More. See Morer on Lord s day, 216. 


troduced into the Communion Service is of course to be fairly 
interpreted by the Catechism ; where the explanation of the 
fourth commandment is simply, " to serve God truly all the 
days of my life," and that such a continual service is the only 
Christian Sabbath accords with the ideas of the Fathers 
before referred to. 

It is true, among the divines of most approved reputation 
hi the English Church there has been all along a division of 
opinion on the subject, not unmixed probably with the contin 
ued struggle between the Puritanizing and the Catholicizing 
extremes of the Reformation. They nearly all, however, 
even those most opposed to the Puritanical views, more or 
less seem intent rather on endeavoring to moderate between 
opposing opinions and attempting a middle path of compro 
mise, than on grasping firmly the broad principle and main 
taining a clear consistency in their own views. 

With many the plea of utility prevails : they allege that 
the restraints of the Law are still requisite for the many : 
that " a preparatory discipline is as needful now as former 
ly "; * that the terrors of the Law are necessary to prepare 
men for the mercies of the Gospel. Yet in the case of a 
divine appointment, what right have we to model its applica 
tion according to our ideas of the necessity of the case, or our 
conceptions of utility ? Again, it is. often elaborately argued, 
on the other hand, that such or such institutions are in their 
nature ceremonial, or would be burdensome or impracticable 
for general adoption, and on that account are to be believed 
not generally obligatory. 

But the real question is, Supposing they were not so, were 
they intended to apply to us ? In a question of divine obli 
gation it is not the supposed excellence of an institution which 
would make it obligatory, any more than its inconvenience or 
inutility would annul it were it really enjoined. 

Many who argue in support of the abrogation of the Law 
in fact take unnecessary trouble to prove the abolition of 

* See Pusey on Rationalism, I. 134. 



obligations of which they have not shown the existence. 
Others, contending for the repeal of some parts of the Law, 
labor to defend the exceptions before they have established 
the rule. The onus probandi lies on those who would im 
pose the obligation, not on those who contend that it never 

It might be thought that the great natural principles of 
right and wrong evinced by reason would be too plain to 
admit of misapprehension or question. Yet when the refer 
ence is made to such principles of moral sense implanted in 
our nature, there are many who object to such a view of 
moral obligation as carnal and unevarigelical. 

It is, however, on all hands admitted, that when we turn to 
the pages of the New Testament, in point of fact all duties 
which can come under the denomination of moral, on any 
theory, are distinctly included and laid down even in literal 
precepts, (though certainly nowhere exhibited in any one 
code or summary,) but, much more, implied and involved in 
the whole spirit and tenor of the doctrine of Christ and the 
Apostles. This then to all parties may suffice to furnish a 
simple unassailable basis of Christian moral obligation. 

It is no doubt true also that some of the same moral duties 
(though by no means all of them) were enjoined in particular 
precepts of the Mosaic Law and the prophetical books. 

But those who receive the Gospel simply as the universal 
revelation of God s will will surely acknowledge the obliga 
tion of those duties, not because they may be found prescribed 
in the Old Testament, but because they form part of the spirit 
and principles of the New. 

On any intelligible view of the principles of moral obliga 
tion, it is perfectly clear that a precept to consecrate any por 
tion of time is in its nature a positive, not a moral injunction : 
that on no moral grounds can we regard one day as more 
sacred than another ; and practical reasons for devoting set 
portions of time to religious purposes cannot apply to one 
seventh more than to any other portion of time. If so, just in 
the same way it might be argued, for example, cleanliness is a 


virtue ; hence the ablutions and purifications of the Law are 
moral precepts perpetually binding. 

But though there is no foundation for Sabbatism in natural 
morality, yet there is a deep-seated one in natural formalism. 
No moral or religious benefits, however, can justify a corrup 
tion of Christianity or the encouragement of superstition. 

The plea of civil and social benefits derivable from such 
observances has been the favorite argument with many who 
take up the question rather on the ground of external policy 
than of religious truth, and especially as maintaining a con 
venient hold on the minds of the multitude, which they are 
desirous to secure even by legislative coercion. In a word, 
their Sabbatism is precisely that of the legislators and philos 
ophers of the heathen world, who by the very same arguments 
upheld their religious festivals.* Nor can we fail to trace 
precisely the same spirit in the Jewish Rabbis, who, well 
knowing human nature, avowed the maxim, doubtless most 
acceptable to the many, " The Sabbath weigheth against 
all the commandments." f 

Such, however, are the views which, in one form or an 
other, have become very general among our countrymen, who, 
under the narrow prepossessions of an exclusive education, (in 
which the Decalogue, in its letter, wholly unexplained, too 
often forms the main religious instruction,) are commonly 
surprised and scandalized when they find in other Christian 
countries those tenets wholly unknown in which they have 
been kept studiously blindfolded by religious teachers, many 
of whom, too, know better. 

Increased intercourse and information, however, it may be 
hoped, is now opening the eyes of many to the peculiarly 

* Thus Seneca speaks of the practice of all legislajors to enjoin pub 
lic festivals and periods of relaxation as essential to the good of the 
state (De Tranq. Anim.) ; and Plato, carrying the matter higher, says, 
" The gods, pitying mankind born to painful labor, appointed for an 
ease and cessation of their toils the recurrence of festival seasons ob 
served to the gods." (De Leg., II. 787.) 

t Midrasn, in Exod. xxvi. 


national prejudices on these subjects ; an object to which 
nothing seems more likely to contribute than attention to the 
simple matter-of-fact view of the whole question here at 
tempted to be followed up. 


To recapitulate and conclude : " God spake in times past 
in sundry portions and under divers forms to the fathers " ; 
but " in these last days unto us by his Son." All the Divine 
declarations are to be understood according to their manifest 
purpose, and with reference to the parties addressed. It may 
be true, that " God spake these words," but not therefore TO 
us. Our concern is not with what was at first, but with what 
has been revealed " in these last days." The Old Testament 
is to us nothing, except as applied in the New. Temporary 
dispensations have passed away, and with national dispensa 
tions we have no concern. We Gentiles are " not under the 
Law," not because it has been abolished, but because to us it 
never existed. The New Testament does not bring us under 
the Old. If we were not " under grace," we should only be 
under nature, not the Law. 

Meats and days, ordinances and Sabbaths, if primeval, 
have ceased ; if Judaical, are national. To introduce such 
observances under the plea of utility and policy, is to disparage 
Divine authority. Expediency is not to be set up against 
truth. Our sole rule must be that of Gospel truth : to adopt 
any other is to pretend to know more of the will of God than 
is revealed in the Gospel. Christianity recognizes the uni 
versal and eternal moral law ; but exalts and enlarges it, and 
sets it on a firmer basis. Distinctions of days have no con 
nection with morality ; under the Gospel no one day is more 
holy than another ; its service is a perpetual one, " in spirit 
and in truth." 

Christianity is not the religion of Moses, nor of Abraham, 
nor of Adam, but something far better. To mix it with ex 
traneous additions, even from those dispensations, is to pervert 
its very nature and object, "which is to supersede and crown 


them all ; to impair its efficacy by ingrafting on it an un- 
evangelic formalism most alien from its spirit ; to lay it 
open to the attacks of the objector, and give the strongest 
handle to scepticism. And to instil such principles in educa 
tion in these times is but to lay the train for a fearful reac 
tion ; when, on the contrary, it ought to be the more peculiar 
endeavor of every sincere and enlightened advocate of the 
Gospel to vindicate its spiritual and rational character, and 
the practical simplicity of its principles, at once the source 
of its power, the test of its truth, and the ground of its sta 
bility and perpetuity. 





SECT. 1. Introductory. The Reformers and their Imme 
diate Successors. Origin, in Modern Times, of the rigid 
View of Inspiration. 

THE older form of doctrine concerning the Inspiration of 
the Scriptures furnished Rationalism with one of its chief 
points of attack upon the leaching of the Church. This older 
doctrine, however, does not reach so far back as the age of the 
Reformation. As regards the great witnesses of the Refor 
mation, so mightily had the word of God in the Scriptures 
made good to their hearts the " demonstration of the spirit 
and of power" (1 Cor. ii. 4) belonging to it, that, without 
feeling any necessity to account in detail for those constituent 
parts of Scripture, in which that word of God was not con 
tained, they bore this testimony as with one voice, " Here 
is the word of God, the standard of all Truth." 

But, in proportion as matters drew near to the close of that 
first Protestant period, in which, through the testimony of the 
Holy Spirit in the soul and the Holy Spirit in the Scriptures 
reciprocally, the direct evidence of Evangelical truth was sus- 

* Translated from the German for Kitto s Journal of Sacred Literature, 


tained in life ; and in proportion as controversy, sharpened by 
Jesuitism, made the Protestant party sensible of the necessity 
of an externally fortified ground of combat ; in that same 
proportion did Protestantism seek, by the exaltation of the 
outwardly authoritative character of the sacred writings, to 
recover that infallible authority which it had lost through its 
rejection of inspired councils and the infallible authority of 
the Pope. 

In this manner arose, amongst both Lutheran and Reformed 
divines, not earlier, strictly speaking, than the seventeenth 
century, those sentiments concerning the inspiration of Holy 
Scripture which regarded it as the infallible production of the 
Divine Spirit, not merely in its religious, but in its entire con 
tents ; and not merely in its contents, but also in its very form. 
In both Protestant churches (the Lutheran and the Reformed) 
it was taught that the writers of the Bible were to be regard 
ed as writing-pens wielded by the hand of God,* and amanu 
enses of the Holy Spirit who dictated,! whom God uses as 
the flute-player does his instrument;]: not only the sense, 
but also the words, and not these merely, but even the letters, 
and the vowel-points, which in Hebrew are written under the 
consonants, according to some, the very punctuation, pro 
ceeded from the Spirit of God. It is true, that there are 
modes of conception and expression, and individual diversities, 
apparent in the sacred authors ; but these were to be regarded 
only as the effect of the Holy Spirit s adaptation. || It might 
be further submitted as a question, whether the Holy Spirit 
descended to grammatical errors, barbarisms, and solecisms. 
By Musaeus and some others, indeed, this was asserted to be 
the case : but by the greater number such an assumption was 
considered blasphemous ; and by Quenstedt and others the 
difficulty was so far disposed of, that what to the Greeks was 

* "Dei calami." t " Spiritus sancti dictantis notarii." 

*t Quenstedt, Theol. Didact. Polera., P. I. 55. Heidegger, Corp. Theol 
II. 34. 

Cahvius, I. 484. Maresius, Syntag. Theol., p. 8. 
|| Qitenstedt, Theol. Didact. Polem., P. I. 76. 


a barbarism, was not necessarily such in the eyes of the 
Church.* By some, again, the thorough purity and classical 
character of the New Testament language were asserted.! 

With greater or less consistency and strictness, this opinion 
is still adhered to by the Kirk of Scotland [and the Free 
Church]. It has also found in Professor Gaussen,| of the 
Evangelical Academy at Geneva, a devout and rhetorical 
defender, causing even a violent breach in the bosom of that 
institution. In Germany it has been advocated by Rudelbach, 
whose treatise, however, in the Lutherischen Zeitschrift von 
Rudelbach und Gmricke, from 1840 till the present time 
(1850), has been occupied solely with the historical part of 
the question. But among the great majority of German 
theologians, the defenders, too, of an orthodox theology, in 
consequence of the historico-critical biblical investigations in 
troduced since the middle of the last century, the rigidity of 
the system which prevailed during the seventeenth century 
has been more and more relaxed ; and the Protestant theology 
of foreign countries also, such as that of the Church of Eng 
land and of the Dissenters, as also that of the French, Dan 
ish, and Swedish churches, has given to the dogma of inspira 
tion a more liberal construction. 

In the succeeding historical part of this Essay, which, by 
the way, makes no pretension to scientific fulness and com 
pleteness, it shall be shown, first of all, that the more liberal 
aspect referred to has no unfriendly bearing upon Evangelical 
doctrine. So far from its being open to the suspicion of being 
the fruit of modern Rationalism, it has, on the contrary, found 
advocates in all ages of the Church, and, at least, was involun 
tarily developed as soon as a person reflected upon the pecu 
liarities of the text. By the Lutheran historian of the doc 
trine, mentioned above, witnesses of this kind are for the 
most part passed over in silence, especially those in the early 

* Ibid., p. 84. 

1 //. Stephens, Seb. Pfochen, Hollaz, Georgi, and others. 
\ In his work, " La Theopneustie, ou 1 Inspiration Pleniere," &c. 


Church. The present Essay will supply this defect. But 
although this be so, not only is it impossible on this account 
to consider it un- Christian, it cannot even for once be shown 
to be un-Lutheran. Of course, we say this on the assumption 
that we do not regard the rigorous propositions of Lutheran 
divines, any more than the more liberal individual expressions 
of Luther, as constituting the measure of what is Lutheran, 
but confine our attention solely to the Lutheran confessions 
of faith. For, while the more rigid definitions of inspiration 
above alluded to are omitted in some Reformed symbols,* for 
instance, in the Formula Consensus, the Lutheran symbols 
contain no express declaration whatever upon the inspiration 
of the Scriptures. The expressions which have a bearing 
upon the question in the symbolical books are found collected 
by K6 liner in his Symbolic der Lutherischen Kirche, p. 612. 

SECT. 2. The Inspired Word distinguished. 

The word inspiration,^ borrowed from 2 Tim. iii. 16, char 
acterizes the contents of the sacred writings as having pro 
ceeded from the breath, the spirit of God. In what man 
ner arises in the minds of the readers of a theopneustic J 
writing this conviction of its origin ? We answer : It arises 
from the certainty that the effects produced by the contents of 
the writing upon the intellect, the will, and the feeling, are 
capable of leading to a religiously moral self-satisfaction, 
as that passage expresses it, they are able " to make the man 
of God perfect." Now the truth is, that, properly speaking, 
the Scripture is for those contents for the divinely effica 
cious facts, expressions, and truths only the vessel which 
contains them ; but the immediate consciousness, by metony 
my, transfers what may be predicated of the contents, to the 
containing vessel itself. A clear illustration of this is supplied 
by Gal. iii. 8 : " And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would 
justify the heathen by faith, preached before the Gospel unto 

* Standards, or doctrinal creeds. TR. 
t " Eingeistung " = inspiriting. 
J Divinely inspired. 


Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." Here 
the gift of prophecy is ascribed to the writing itself, because 
it contains predictions. Those parts of the contents of Scrip 
ture, however, from which the effects above referred to do not 
directly flow, such as a genealogical table, a list of encamp 
ments, and the like, stand more or less in indirect connection, 
at least, with the rest. 

As long, then, as the immediate religious consciousness has 
not developed itself into reflection, it extends the idea of in 
spiration to these portions of Scripture also, although not 
without the slumbering acknowledgment that the Divine 
breath, or spirit, does not exercise an equal control through 
out the whole : in proportion as it is external and incidental 
is it less in degree. That this acknowledgment does slumber 
in the background is evident as soon as reflection is directed 
to such incidental externalities. Let us suppose it to be 
proved to the simple-minded Christian that Paul, in 1 Cor. x. 
8, where he writes, " There fell in one day twenty-three thou 
sand," must have committed an error of memory, inasmuch as 
in the Old Testament narrative recording the fact,* the num 
ber twenty-four thousand is given ; or, that Matthew commits 
an error of memory when he ascribes the passage concerning 
the thirty pieces of silver to Jeremiah,f while it really occurs 
in Zechariah xi. 12, 13. What condition would he be in? 
At first, doubtless, he would confidently declare that no error 
of memory could exist, that there might be some other 
solution of the difficulty ; although to all learned men such 
solution were unknown. But suppose that upon this it should 
be explained to him that Paul, in 1 Cor. i. 16, while writing 
an inspired Epistle, does really not lay claim to infallibility of 
memory in such details.! What would be his reply to this ? 
From his own religious necessity, he would have no objection 
whatever to offer to such (supposed) failure of memory ; only 
he would still be unable to suppress the fear, that, by conced- 

* Numb. xxv. 9. t Matt, xxvii. 9, 10. 

I "And I baptized also the household of Stephanas : besides, ITcnivo 
not that I baptized any other" 


ing failure of memory in one place, other and more material 
truths of Scripture might lose their certainty and infallibility. 
If one could only set him at rest on this matter, by making 
it manifest to his mind that the evidence of no material truth 
would be thereby impaired, he would doubtless willingly 
abandon the accuracy of those statements, as a thing not 
essential to his religious wants. 

SECT. 3. The Fathers. 

With this kind of unreflecting reverence for the Sacred 
Scriptures as records proceeding from the Spirit of God, and 
pervaded by him, we find the ancient Church Fathers also 
filled. We discover amongst them no searching exposition, 
no elaborated theory. Nay, what is altogether remarkable, we 
do not find these things even during the lapse of succeeding 
centuries, until, after the Reformation, we reach the doctrinal 
theology of the Lutheran and Reformed churches. Men were 
satisfied with general and occasional expressions. Where 
the Church Fathers, without reflecting more precisely upon 
details, give us the sum total of their impression concerning 
the Holy Scripture, they acknowledge their belief in its in 
spiration, and designate it by the names, " Divine writing," 
" divinely inspired writing," " Instrumentum divinum," " Co?,- 
lestes Liters," &c. 

Justin Martyr, about the middle of the second century, 
says : " Such exalted things could not be known by human 
reflection, but only by means of a heavenly gift which de 
scended upon holy men. These men needed no artificial 
eloquence, no skilful art of disputation : but they merely 
yielded up their pure souls to the inward operation of the 
Divine Spirit. As a bow upon a lyre evokes tones of music, 
so the Deity used these pious men as instruments to make 
known to us heavenly things." * 

" The Holy Scriptures," says Origen, in the third century. 

* Cohort, ad Gentes, c. 8. [For his views on the inspiration of th 
Prophets, see his Apol. I., 56, 57, ed. Paris, 1815. TR.] 


u are penetrated throughout as by the wind by the fulness of 
the Spirit ; and there is nothing therein, either in the Prophets, 
or the Law, or the Gospels, or in the Apostolical writings, 
which does not proceed from the Divine Majesty." * 

Eusebius, in the fourth century, commenting on Psalm 
xxxiii. 34, declares : " I hold it to be presumptuous for any 
man to say that the Holy Scripture has erred." f 

Augustine, also, in the fourth century, declares it as his 
" most settled belief, that none of the writers of the books 
called canonical committed any error whatever in writing." % 

At the same time, however, they may have had in view 
the sense of Scripture more than the words ; for so carelessly 
were verbal citations then made, that the writers who flour 
ished up to the end of the second century quote the language 
of Scripture sometimes from oral traditions, but for the most 
part merely from memory, and, at times, with the greatest 
deviations from our text. Besides, the Old Testament was 
known to them only in the Alexandrian Greek translation 
(Septuagint), and they must, therefore, if they claimed for 
the Book a literal inspiration, extend it, without any warrant 
for so doing, to that translation also. This Justin Martyr 
does ; but none else. 

At the same time, it is important to bear in mind that many 
of their expressions give^ far more explicit proof that their 
general statements concerning the divinity of the sacred 
writings are not to be understood absolutely. At all events, 

* In Jerem. Horn. II. 

t Also his Eccles. Hist., Lib. III. cap. 24. 

J " Ego soils eis scripturarura libris, qui jam canonici appcllantur, 
didici hunc timorem honorcmque deferre, ut nullum eorum auctorem 
scribcndo aliquid errasse firmissimc credam." 

[At the same time, it cannot be denied that passages are also to be met 
with, especially in Augustine and Jerome, from which it is evident that 
there were occasions on which they were compelled to modify their views. 
Thus Augustine accounts for the variations found in many parts of the 
Gospels on the principle that each writer exercised freely his mental 
faculties, and presented his own peculiar aspect of facts and circum 
stances, &c. Henderson, Div. Insp., 2d ed., p. 50. TR.} 


they did not refer to it in the sense in which it has been 
taught by the post-Reformation divines. 

"We begin with a man who was an immediate disciple of 
our Lord, the Presbyter John. Far from entertaining the 
idea that the contents of their writings were supernaturally 
delivered to the Apostles, and, by the way, the passage in 
Luke i. 1 - 3 would not agree with such a supposition, he 
relates concerning the composition of the Gospel of Mark 
as follows : " He (Mark) was the interpreter of Peter, and 
carefully recorded all that he retained from him in his 
memory, without binding himself to the chronological order 
of the words and deeds of Christ." * 

In like manner, Irenaeus, about the end of the second cen 
tury, cannot have held the opinion that the contents of Paul s 
writings had been imparted to him while in a purely passive 
state. A treatise was composed by this Father " On the Pe 
culiarities of the Pauline Style," in which he acknowledges 
the unsyntactic construction of the Apostle, and accounts for 
it on the ground of " the rapidity of his utterances, and the 
impulsiveness of spirit wnich distinguished him."f Such 
an influence of his personal peculiarity upon his expres 
sions would be incompatible with the assumption that the 
Apostle at the time of inspiration was in a purely passive 

Origen, although in other respects an advocate of the most 
rigid theory of inspiration, boldly makes a distinction between 
the words of the Lord and those of the Apostles. He says : 
" Those who are truly wise in Christ are of opinion that the 
Apostolical writings have indeed been disposed wisely, credi 
bly, and with reverence for God ; but, nevertheless, not to be 
compared with such declarations as Thus saith the Lord 
Almighty/ And on this account we must consider whether, 
when Paul says, * All Scripture is inspired by God and use- 

* Eusebius, Eccles. Hist , III. 39. 

t " Vclocitas sermonum suorum, et propter impetum, qui in ipso est, 


fidj * he includes his own Epistles, and whether he would 
exclude some parts of them, such as those where it is said, 
* That which I speak, I speak not after the Lord ;f and this, 
1 As I teach everywhere in every church ; J and again, l At 
Antioch, at Iconium, at Lystra, ivhat persecutions I endured" ; 
and other like things which here and there he has written of 
his own knowledge, and by authority (KCLT cgovatav), but yet 
which have not flowed forth purely and entirely from divine 
inspiration." || He declares, also, that, according to the his 
torical sense, an insoluble contradiction exists between John 
and Matthew in relation to our Lord s last Passover journey. 
" I believe it to be impossible," he says, " for those who upon 
this subject direct attention merely to the external history, to 
prove that this apparent contradiction is capable of being 
harmonized." ^ 

Augustine, who, on the one hand, is unwilling that it should 
be said that Christ wrote nothing, since the Apostles were 
only his hands in writing,** declares, nevertheless, on the 
other hand,ft that each of the Evangelists has written, some 
times more and sometimes less fully, as each remembered, 
and as each had it in his heart : J J and asserts that the words 

* Dr. Tholuck s rendering : " Alle Schrift ist von Gott eingegeben 
und nutzlich." Gr. Hatra ypac^j) Beonvevaros KOI axjWAt/zos, K. r. X. 
2 Tim. iii. 16. TR. 

1 2 Cor. xi. 17. Also comp. 1 Cor. vii. 40. 

t 1 Cor. iv. 17. 2 Tim. iii. 11. 

|| In Johann., Tom. I. p. 4, ed. 1668. 

IT Ibid., Tom. I. p. 183. TR. 

** De Consensu Evangel., I. 35. ft Ibid., II. 12. 

Jt " Ut quisque meminerat, et ut cuique cordi erat." 

De Consensu Evangel., II. 28. " Quce cum itasintpcr hujusmodi 
evangelistarum locutiones varias, sed non contrarias, rem plane utilissi- 
raam discimus et pernecessariam, nihil in cujusque verbis nos dcbere in- 
spicere, nisi voluntatem, cui debent verba servire, nee mentiri qucmquam, 
si aliis verhis dixerit quid ille volucrit, cujus verba non dicit : ne miseri 
aucupes vocum apicibus quodammodo litei-arum putent ligandam esse 
veritatem, cum utique non in verbis tan turn, scd etiam in ca;teris omni 
bus signis animorum non sit nisi ipse animus inquirendus." 


of the Evangelists might be ever so contradictory, provided 
only that their thoughts were the same. 

Jerome, who was an accomplished grammarian, so fully 
recognized the diversities incident to the style of the Apostles, 
that he often imputes solecisms to their language, and writes 
of Paul that he had used " sermone trivii" street language.* 

The great bishop and expositor, Chrysostom, who declared 
such confidence in the Scripture as to say that all the contra 
dictions (enantiophonien) found there are, after all, only ap 
parent contradictions (enantiophanien),f has nevertheless taken 
the liberty to remark upon the words of Paul in Acts xxvi. 6 : 
" He speaks humanly, and does not throughout enjoy grace, 
but it is permitted him even to intermix his own materials." J 

We see, then, that even amongst the ancient Church Fa 
thers, although they had a general impression of the divinely 
inspired character of Scripture, the opinion that its language 
was human and imperfect was held to be unmistakable ; that 
verbal contradictions, nay, contradictions even in matters of 
fact, were ascribed to it without hesitation ; and that the au 
thority of the Apostolical writings was regarded as secondary 
to those which were said to have proceeded immediately from 
God himself. 

SECT. 4. Views of Inspiration in the Roman Catholic 
Church. The Scholastics. 

The Catholic Church, since the time when the dogma of 
the infallibility of ecclesiastical tradition as the interpreter of 

* Ad. Fol., 3.1. " Jerome, when commenting on the passage Gal. 
v. 12, finds no difficulty in supposing that St. Paul, in the choice of an 
expression, is governed by the vehemence of an emotion, arising, how 
ever, out of a pure temper of heart. Nee mirum esse, si Apostolus, ut 
homo, et adhuc vasculo clausus infirmo, vidensque aliam legem in cor 
pore suo captivantem se et ducentem in lege peccati, semel fuerit hoc 
loquutus, in quod frequenter sanctos viros cadere perspicimus. " Nean- 
der, Church Hist., IV. p. 12, ed. Clark. TR. 

x Opera, Tom. VII. p.. 5. 

J Ibid., Tom. X. p. 364. Avdpa)Triva>s SiaXe yercu *ai ov rravraxov 
rrfs X<ipiTOS cwroXauet, aXXa KOL Trap CCLVTOV T\ trvy^Oipe^Tai ficrcpepciv. 


Holy Scripture was developed, must still less have felt a 
desire to give any extension to the doctrine of Inspiration. 
The Scholastics, when they treat of any principle of theologi 
cal science, certainly give expression to the idea that the 
latter has a principle different from philosophy, the revelatio 
laid down in Holy Scripture ; but into the question concerning 
the extent of its inspiration, they do not, at least more closely, 
enter. Expressions marked by liberality transpire even dur 
ing these dark times. Thus Bishop Junilius,* in the sixth 
century, to the question, " How is the authority of the sacred 
books to be considered ? " returns the answer, " Some are 
of perfect authority, some of partial authority, and some of 
none at all." Amongst the second class (those of partial au 
thority) he included the book of Job, the books of Chroni 
cles, Ezra, and others ; and amongst the last class (those of 
no authority whatever), those which are properly Apocryphal. 

In the ninth century, Agobard, Archbishop of Lyons, writes : 
" What absurdity will follow if the notion is maintained, con 
cerning the Prophets and Apostles, that the Holy Spirit in 
spired them not only with the sense of their predictions, and 
the forms or arguments of their phraseology, but also that he 
fashioned in their lips the very words themselves bodily and 
outwardly." f 

In the works of the Greek Catholic expositor Euthymius 
Zigabenus, in the twelfth century, the following words are 
found upon Matt. xii. 8 : "It is not to be wondered at if one 
Evangelist relates this, and the other passes by that ; for they 
did not write down the Gospels immediately from the lips of 
Christ, so as to be able to give a perfect impression of ah 1 his 
words, but many years after he had spoken. And since they 
were men, they were liable to omit many things through for- 
getfulness. This will explain to you how one may have re 
corded what another may have omitted. Oftentimes they have 
made large omissions, simply for the sake of brevity ; some 
times because they thought the matter to be unnecessary." 

* De Partibus Div. Legis, 1. 8. t Adv. Fredegisum, c. 12. 


The Scholastic theology introduced a distinction between 
what directly, and what indirectly, belongs to faith ; a distinc 
tion which is pertinent to our subject, and may also serve as 
a basis for a theory of inspiration. " Those things belong 
directly to faith," says Thomas Aquinas, in the thirteenth cen 
tury, " which to us are pre-eminently of Divine origin, as, 
that God exists in a Trinity of persons ; and to hold a false 
opinion concerning these is the very cause of heresy. On 
the other hand, things belonging to faith indirectly, are those 
from which follows anything contrary to faith, as if, for ex 
ample, any one should assert that Samuel was not the son 
of Elkanah ; for from this it would follow that the Scripture 
is false." * 

From the interest here mentioned there arises also, amongst 
ourselves, ever afresh, the practical need of an unexception 
able and uniform inspiration of the Scripture. How this need 
is to be judged of will be the subject to be handled in our 
second part. Here the language of the great Church Father 
just quoted (Aquinas), may only serve as a testimony that 
the religious consciousness in man, when it reflects upon itself, 
makes a distinction between the several parts of Scripture, 
agreeably to which the necessity also for its inspiration is a 
mediate or an immediate necessity. Besides, the Scholastics, 
in contending for the exclusion of all error, have been so far 
from maintaining strict consistency, that we find at least in Abe- 
lard a concession of individual doctrinal errors. He says (" Sic 
et Non," ed. Cousin, p. 11) : "It is certain that the Prophets 
themselves were at times destitute of prophetic grace, and 
that in their official capacity as Prophets, while believing that 
they were in possession of the spirit of prophecy, they de 
clared, by their own spirit, some things that were fallacious ; 
and this was permitted them in order to preserve their hu 
mility, in other words, that they might more truly know the 
difference between themselves as persons receiving Divine 
assistance, and as relying solely upon the guidance of their 

* Summa Theol., I Qu. 32, art. 4. (Ed. Antw 1585.) TR. 


own spirit." He then cites the instance of Peter, who on 
account of a deviation from the truth had been so severely 
censured by Paul, and adds : " What wonder is it, therefore, 
seeing that it is certain that even Prophets and Apostles were 
not entirely free from error, if amongst so great a number of 
Church Fathers a few writings appear to have been issued 
containing mistakes." 

The Catholic Confession of the Council of Trent has given 
no more direct explanation of the sense in which the Sacred 
Scripture is to be considered as divinely inspired than the 
Lutheran symbols.* In Sessio IV. the canonical writings 
are mentioned, and it is there only incidentally stated that 
the Apostles wrote as it was dictated to them by the Holy 
Ghost, t The opinions of Catholic theologians have so moved 
between two boundary lines, that by some, in the same mari 
ner as by the Protestants, the strictest literal inspiration has 
been advocated, J while by others inspiration has been re 
stricted to those portions only which contain doctrinal matter ; 
but the decisive authority of the Church interfered not with 
their differences. By the most eminent authorities, the 
Jesuit Bellarmine, the Dominican Camas, the learned Bon- 
frere, the jesuitically famous Cornelius a Lapide, and others, 
revelatio proper was distinguished from divine assistance 
(assistentia) ; the latter being an influence which kept those 
from error who wrote by the force of their own minds. || 
Many amongst them make no scruple in conceding that the 
Evangelists fall into errors. The celebrated Canus supposes 
an error of memory in Stephen in the passage Acts vii. 1 G.^[ 
Erasmus treats in like manner some passages in Matthew. 

* Creeds. t " Spiritu sancto dictante " 

J Vide Casp. Sanctius, Salazar, Huet, and Este. 

Antonius de Dominis, Richard Simon, Henry Holden in the Analysis 
Fidei, 1685, &c. 

- || Qiwnstedt, I. ch. 4, p. 67 et seq. ; Rich. Simon, in his Criticisms ou 
the New Test., I. c. 24. 

IT Where Ephron the Hittite is called " Ephron the father of Sichern." 
Corap. Gen. xxiii. TR. 



Maldonatus, in referring to Matt. xxvi. 28, " For this is my 
blood of the New Testament," &c., declares his belief that 
the words of the institution of the Lord s Supper have been 
more correctly given by Matthew and Mark than by Luke 
and Paul.* Antonius dc Dominis judges as follows concern 
ing such defects : " Mistakes of this kind, which touch not the 
substance of the fact, neither do, nor can do, any injury to the 
faith ; nor do they relate to any portion of the Divine Faith 
which demands belief, but to that which carries with it a 
knowledge which is merely human, and thought out by the 
mind." f 

SECT. 5. Lutheran and Reformed Divines. 

The leading dogmatical works of the two Protestant church 
es, | the Loci Theologici of Melancthon, and the Christian 
Institutes of Calvin, like the symbolical writings of the Lu 
theran Church, propound no doctrine of Inspiration. They 
convey a general impression of the divinity and credibility 
of the Biblical writings, and nothing more. With many 
strong expressions, Luther bears testimony to the Bible as a 
book whose entire contents are useful and salutary ; in which 
are no contradictions ; || and every letter, nay, every tittle, of 
which is of more significance than heaven and earth together ; ^ 
and so on. And yet he has not hesitated to utter the well- 
known offensive declarations concerning the Canon of Holy 
Scripture. It is true that at a later period he considerably 
softened down his opinions on these points, but he still freely 
ascribed to the Scriptures imperfections or logical errors. In 
his preface to Linken s " Annotations on the first Five Books 
of Moses," ** he says : " Doubtless the Prophets studied the 
writings of Moses, and the last Prophets studied the first, and 
wrote down in a book the good thoughts which the Holy Spirit 

* Qnenstedt, I. ch. 4, p. 75 ; R. Simon, I. p. 185. 

t R. Simon, I. p. 525. 

J The Lutheran, and the Reformed or Calvinistic Church. Ta. 

$ Walch, I. 1196. Ibid., II. 1758. 

|j Ibid., VIU 2140. t Ibid., VHL 2161. ** Ibid., XIV. 172. 


excited (vom H. Geiste eingegeben) within them. But allowing 
that these good, faithful teachers and searchers of the Scrip 
ture sometimes build with a mixture of hay, straw, and stubble, 
and not entirely with silver, gold, and precious stones, the 
foundation nevertheless remains unshaken ; as for the other, 
the fire will consume it." Luther also took the liberty to un 
derstand Old Testament words in a sense different from that 
which is given them as they are explained in the New Testa 
ment. This passage from Isa. viii. 17, 18, " And I will wait 
upon the Lord, that liideth his face from the house of Jacob, 
and I will look for him. Behold, I and the children whom 
the Lord hath given me are for signs and for wonders in 
Israel," &c. is understood, as quoted by the author of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews (ii. 13), as a declaration made by 
Christ ; but Luther, in his Commentary upon Isaiah, explains 
it as a declaration by the Prophet himself.* Concerning the 
argument of Paul, conducted on the ground of a typical ap 
prehension of the history of Hagar and Sarah,f he frankly 
declares that it " is too unsound to stand the test, and yet it 
throws a clear light upon the question of faith." In relation 
to the sections forming the twenty-fourth chapter of Matthew, 
and the twenty-first chapter of Luke, where commentators 
have had much disputation as to what portions refer to the 
destruction of Jerusalem, and what to the end of the world, he 
is of opinion that Matthew and Mark have mixed both events 
together indiscriminately, and do not observe the order which 
Luke has observed, f According to Genesis xii. 111, God 
first appeared to Abraham in Haran ; according to Acts vii. 
2, he had already appeared to him in Mesopotamia. Luther 
observes upon this : " It appears to me that Moses narrates 
this history carefully and accurately: not so Stephen, who 
has only borrowed it from Moses. Now, it often happens 
that, when one gives a plain, hasty narration of anything, he 
does not pay such close attention to all the circumstances, as 

* Walch, VI. 121 et seq. t Gal. iv. 22 et seq. 

J Walch, XI. 2496. 


they must do who wish to write faithfully a history of past 
occurrences, for the benefit of posterity. Moses is an his 
torian : Stephen relies upon the fact that the history stands 
written by Moses " [and that hence his hearers, perusing that 
history, were in no danger of being misled by his cursory 
detail of facts]. In Gen. xv. 13, the duration of the Egyp 
tian bondage is given as four hundred years ; Exod. xii. 40, 
gives it at four hundred and thirty years ; while Paul, on the 
contrary, in Gal. iii. 17, following the Septuagint and the 
Samaritan (Pentateuch) reckons the time from the period 
when the promise was given to Abraham until the end of the 
Captivity, at four hundred and thirty. Now, Luther first 
endeavors, under the guidance of Lyra, by unnatural wrest 
ing, to reconcile this calculation of Paul with the text, and 
then, at Gen. xv. 13, he makes the admission that here the 
historian " does not very closely arid accurately calculate the 
time." * 

With him, however, such questions are generally insignifi 
cant. Of mistakes in answering questions concerning matters 
purely historical, he says : " These mistakes are of such a 
nature as to do no damage to the faith, nor do they prejudice 
our cause ; concerning Truth alone must we firmly adhere to 
the Sacred Scripture, and rigidly defend it, while we leave 
to others things that are darker, to be settled by their own 
judgments." f Giving his opinion on the book of Job in his 
" Table Talk," he observes : " This book, excellent as it is, 
was not written by him (Job), nor concerning him only, but 
all the afflicted. Job did not actually utter the words ascribed 
to him ; but his thoughts were such as are there represented. 
The book unfolds itself before us, both in matter and execu 
tion, much after the manner of a comedy, and the strain of its 
argument is almost that of & fable." J 

The same liberal mode of viewing the verbal fidelity and 
the chronological accuracy of the history, presents itself in 

* Walch, XL 1448. t Ibid., 1089. 

t Colloquia, ed. Frankf. 1571, H. 102. 


Calvin s Harmony of the Gospels. Luke to give an in 
stance has related that temptation of Christ as second, 
which in Matthew is the third. Upon this Calvin remarks : 
" It signifies nothing at all, for it was not the intention of these 
Evangelists so to weave the thread of history as always to 
preserve exactly the order of time, but to collect, as they 
would present in a mirror or on a tablet, a summary of those 
things which it is most advantageous for us to know concern 
ing Christ." 

Luke * differs from Matthew f in his manner of stating the 
command of our Lord concerning that high manifestation of 
patient endurance, where a man, after being deprived of one 
garment, yields up again another. Calvin, referring to this, 
simply observes, " Diverse readings in Matthew and Luke 
change not the sense." In the Epistle to the Hebrews, chap. 
xi. 21, the passage found in Gen. xlvii. 31 is quoted accord 
ing to the Greek version (Septuagint), J which follows a 
reading different from the Hebrew text. Calvin briefly 
remarks, " We well know that the Apostles were not, in this 
matter (of quotation), so very precise ; but in reality there is 
little difference." Concerning 1 Cor. x. 8, where Paul men 
tions twenty-three thousand instead of twenty-four thousand, 
Calvin says, " It is not a new thing, where it is not intended 
to present a minute enumeration of individuals, to give a 
number which substantially approximates the actual truth." 
Upon Matthew xxvii. 9, he says it is clear that Zechariah 
must here be read instead of Jeremiah ; and adds, " How the 
name of Jeremiah crept in here, I confess I do not know, nor 
am I anxious about the matter." In that candid way does 
Calvin judge concerning the more external errors of memory. 
And as to the doctrinal contents of Scripture, he speaks as 
follows : " Seeing that heavenly oracles are not of every-day 
occurrence, they obtain complete authority among believers 

* Chap. vi. 29. t Chap. v. 40. 

I Kal irpoo-fKvvrj&fv eVt TO aicpov TTJS pa/3 Sou avrov. 
Eng. Vers. from Hebr. : " And Israel bowed himself upon the bed s 


only when they prove themselves to have proceeded from 
heaven, as if the very living- words of God themselves are 
distinctly heard therein." 

Zuinglius, in treating of the Church Fathers, has given a 
canon which accords infallibility to Christ alone, so withhold 
ing it from the Apostles. These are the words : " It is not 
true that the writings of all holy men are infallible ; nor is it 
true that they do not err. This pre-eminence must be given 
to the Son of God alone out of the whole human race." * 

The immediate followers, also, of the German Reformers, 
as well as those of the Swiss Reformers, speak of certain 
imperfections in the Biblical writers, in a manner not con 
sistent with very extreme notions of Inspiration. Bugen- 
hagen, f in the scheme he drew up for harmonizing the narra 
tives of our Lord s passion, remarks : " Consider that the 
Evangelists wrote each for himself what they saw, and often 
times while they record what occurred, they are heedless of 
the order of occurrence." He also takes especial care to 
expose the errors of the Alexandrine translation (Septuagint), 
which have sometimes been transferred to the New Testa 

Likewise Breuz, upon Rom. ix. 25, j remarks, " that the 
quotation does not give the true sense of the Old Testament 
text, but that the purport is the same. 

Bullinger, the Swiss, very ingenuously allows that the 
sacred penmen were liable to errors of memory. In reference 
to 1 Cor. x. 8, he writes : " Transcribers easily fall into error 
in stating numbers ; but sometimes the writers also were le$ 
by treacherous memories into the commission of mistakes" 

Castellio, another Swiss theologian, complains that Paul, in 

* Schriftcn von Usteri und Vogelin, II. 247. 

t Bugenhagcn was a distinguished promoter of the Reformation in 
Denmark. Vide Milnter s Kirch. Gcschichte von Danemark und Nor- 
wegen. TR. 

\ " As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people which were 
not my people ; and her beloved, which was not beloved." Quoted from 
IIos. ii. 23. 


Rom. ix., has not expressed his meaning more fully and 
openly ; and brings against the Apostle s logic the charge, that 
it confounds together two comparisons which ought to have 
been kept distinct,* &c. 

Moreover, after Melancthon, the Lutheran Church had no 
knowledge of such definitions concerning inspiration as repre 
sent it affecting minute details. The " Loci Theologici " of 
Chemnitz, 1591, leave the dogma of the Holy Scriptures f 
entirely undiscussed; and even John Gerhard, at the com 
mencement of the seventeenth century (1610-25), while 
indeed in his " Loci Theologici," that most important dogmat 
ical work of the Lutheran Church, he has definitions of great 
strictness upon the authority of Scripture, and its perfection, 
nevertheless said nothing in his earlier writings upon the 
subject of its inspiration. | Definitions that go into detail 
first occur in " Systema Theologicum " of Calovius, in the 
second half of this century (1655 - 77). As to what opinions 
the Reformed Church adopted on the subject, we may say 
that its earlier confessions confine themselves entirely to the 
mere assertion of the inspiration of the Bible as a dogma. 
The " Formula Consensus Helvetici," which appeared not 
earlier than 1675, declares in detail concerning the Old Tes 
tament: "It is divinely inspired (deonveva-ros), equally as re 
gards the consonants, the vowels, and even the vowel-points, 
or at least as it regards the force of the vowel-points, both as 
to matter and as to words." || To this position most of the 
divines of the Reformed Church adhere. Inspiration, in the 
widest extent of the idea, is especially vindicated by the 
erudite Professor Voetius, of the University of Utrecht, in a 

* Dial. II. De Electione, pp. 103, 107, 132. 

t The dogma concerning the nature and authority of Scripture. TR. 

J By direction of Dr. Tholuck in a recent communication the transla 
tion here varies slightly from the original text. TR. 

Calovius died 1686. It is said that he daily offered up the petition, 
" Imple me, Deus, odio hajreticorum ! " TR. 

I! " Turn quoad consonas, turn quoad vocalia, et puncta ipsa, sivo 
jmnctorum saltern potestatem, et turn quoad res, turn quoad verba, 


treatise entitled " Quousque se extendat Auctoribus Scripture 
Inspiratio." * " Not a word," it is here said, " is contained in 
the Holy Scriptures which was not in the strictest sense in 
spired, the very interpunctuation not excepted : even what 
the writers previously knew was given them afresh by inspi 
ration ; and this was the case, not indeed as it regards impres 
sions of things intelligible by the exercise of their natural 
faculties, but as it regards formal conception and actual 
record." In direct contradiction to Luke i. 1-3, to the ques 
tion, " Whether ordinary study, inquiry, and premeditation 
were necessary for writing (the Scriptures)," it is replied 
(p. 47) : " No ; for the Spirit immediately, extraordinarily, 
and infallibly moved them to write, and both inspired and 
dictated the things to be written." 

Besides the two great Protestant Churches, the adherents 
of Luther and Calvin, we must also take into consideration 
the followers of Socinus. Agreeing with the Reformers re 
specting the inspiration of the Scriptures, it was nevertheless 
maintained by Socinus, in his treatise " De Auctoritate Scrip- 
turae," f that into things " which are of small moment," the 
Evangelists and Apostles have allowed slight errors to enter ; 
and agreeably with such a notion, the commentators of this 
narty, here and there, acknowledge errors of memory in the 
Biblical writers. 

But, even amongst the great Protestant Churches, there 
went forth in the seventeenth century, side by side with that 
extreme theory already mentioned, another of a more mod 
erate character. This, however, met with great opposition. 
In the Reformed Church (followers of Calvin), we /hid 
learned theologians, of the French Academy at Saumur espe 
cially, unhesitatingly admitting here and there an incorrect 
upprehension of the Old Testament by the writers of the 
New, or errors of memory. We also find German Reformed 
theologians, such as Junius, Piscator, and others, equally free 
in their sentiments. The liberal tendency of opinion thus 

Disputationea Select," p. 1. t Chap. I. p. 15. 


manifested was reduced to more general exegetico-dogmatical 
principles by the Arminian party, who were thrust out of the 
Dutch Reformed Church. Grotius, in his " Plea for Peace," * 
avows his belief that the historical books of Scripture, in dis 
tinction from the prophetical, can lay claim to nothing beyond 
credit for the ability of the writers, and their sincere desire to 
communicate the truth.f In the treatise " Riveti Apologia 
Discuss.," p. 723, it is asked, by way of affirmation to the 
contrary, " Has Luke said, The word of the Lord came to 
Luke, and the Lord said to him, Write ? " A thorough re 
modelling of the earlier theory of inspiration, and its reduc 
tion to some such form as has been defended by the supra- 
naturalists of more recent times, is found in the Eleventh 
Letter in the works of the Arminian Le Clerc. J Episcopius 
ascribes to the Apostles only an assistance of the Divine 
Spirit in the composition of works which proceeded from 
their own determination ; and allows that in such passages 
as the genealogy in Matthew ch. i. errors may possibly have 
crept in. 

In the Lutheran Church it was Calixt, || in the middle of 
the sixteenth century, who gave forth a more liberal theory of 
inspiration. The distinction between revelatio and assisten- 
tia or directio divina, which had widely prevailed in the 
Catholic theology, he adopted, and maintained " that God did 
not reveal in a peculiar manner to the sacred writers those 
things which naturally struck their senses, or were otherwise 
known to them ; but still that he so directed and aided them 
as that they should write nothing contrary to the truth." 
Nay, more, he even limits the revelatio to those truths only 

* " Votum pro Pace Ecclesiastica." 

t Opera Theol., ed. Arasterd. 1679, III. 672. In. 

J " Sentimens de quclques Theologicns de Hollande sur THistoire 
Critique du V. Test." Composee pur Rich. Simon. 1685. 

"Instit. Theologize," III. 5. 1. 

|| For an account of this remarkable divine and controversialist, sec 
Moller, " Cimbra Literata," and Mosheim by Murdoch, Cent. 17, S. 2, p. 
2, ch. i. Schlegel s note to sect. 21. TB. 


which Thomas Aquinas had fixed upon as the peculiar and 
direct objects of faith. 

These sentiments were still more widely diffused by the 
school of the Helmstadt theologians. In the Swiss and 
French Reformed Churches, the sentiments of Le Clerc met 
with a welcome reception. In the " Theologie Chretienne " 
of the celebrated Pictet, Professor in Geneva (1702), the 
inspiration of Scripture is limited to the truth which was 
knowable by Revelation alone. From this were distinguished 
while based upon it those conceptions which were pecu 
liar to the Apostles themselves. Revelation was restricted to 
those things which by natural means were not known to them. 
As to all other things a divine guidance in preventing error 
was adopted. 

SECT. 6. State of Opinion in England. 

A freer treatment of the question namely, the limitation 
of inspiration to the subject-matter has from the first, along 
with individual advocates of a more rigid view, found place in 
the English Church.* Several Dissenters, also, eminently 
distinguished for their exemplary piety, occupy the same 
liberal ground-t The Presbyterian Church of Scotland alone 
has continued up to the present day to adhere to the straitest 
acceptation of the idea of inspiration. The free spiritual 
insight of Baxter in that celebrated work, " The Reformed 
Pastor," is especially surprising. He says : " As the glory of 
the Divine Maker shines more brilliantly in the whole frame 
of nature than in an individual grain, stone, or insect ; and in 
the whole man, more than in any particular part of least 
comeliness ; so also the authority of God shines forth more 
visibly in the whole system of Holy Scripture and holy doc 
trine than in any minor part. Nevertheless, for the advan- 

* Vide Lowth s Vindication of the Old and New Test., 1692; Wil- 
liams s Boyle Lecture, 1695; Clarke s Div. Authority of Holy Script., 
1699, &c. 

t Baxter s Method. Theol. Christ. 1681 ; Doddridge s Dissertation 011 
Inspiration of N. Test., &c. 


tage of the whole system, these parts are not wanting in 
beauty any more than the others, such as the hair and nails. 
But their authority is to be seen more from their agreement 
with the whole of Scripture, and from their more distinguish 
ing portions, than from themselves separately." Here alone 
in an orthodox divine of the seventeenth century does the 
question meet with a complete treatment, in which, on the one 
hand, the conception of Scripture as an organism, and, on the 
other hand, the argument from the testimony of the Holy 
Spirit, stand forth as fundamental ideas. 

SECT. 7. Progress of Opinion in Germany, fyc. in 
the Eighteenth Century. 

With the beginning of the eighteenth century, in Germany, 
the firmly built fabric of the traditional ecclesiastical system 
began, upon this question as upon others, to totter. The 
following circumstances were instrumental in bringing about 
this result. The peculiarity of the Calixtine efforts has been 
pointed out in a recent Monograph upon George Calixt, as 
follows : " There lies therein the opposition of religious to 
dogmatic salvation,* together with an appeal to the nature 
and foundation of the early Apostolic Church. To such an 
extent had exclusive zeal in attaching importance to dogmas 
been carried, that the body of dogmatic declarations, sepa 
rately and conjointly, had nearly been exalted to the position 
of an arbiter respecting the reception or non-reception of 
eternal life. Against this domination over, and entire absorp 
tion of, faith by mere dogma, Calixt raised his voice." f In a 

* That is, we suppose, Salvation through the possession of religious 
principle was opposed to salvation (so called) through the mere reception 
of certain dogmas. TR. 

t Gasz : George Calixt, und der St/nkretismus, p. 11. " Syncretism." 
This term, in the seventeenth century, marks the great controversy 
between Calixt and the more bigoted sections of the Protestant Church. 
This divine had travelled much abroad, and intercourse with different 
churches had given him a liberalized tone of feeling which led him to 
propose a cessation of hostilities between Protestants and Romanists, 


manner purely practical, the same necessity made itself felt in 
the pietism which arose at the end of the seventeenth century. 
Led on by the exclusively practical power of inward religion, 
this pietism was indifferent to the dogmatical system of the 
day, and attended solely to the fundamental truths, by means 
of which the religious life in man is awakened. The estab 
lished doctrine of inspiration was not even touched upon by 
Spener, except that he impugns the notion of the pure pas- 
siveness of its recipients, and maintains the influence of human 
peculiarities upon the form of the discourse or writing.* As, 
however, traditional reverence for the earlier dogmatical sys 
tem gave way, and as the spiritual tone of pietism was again 
corrupted into mere externalism, in that proportion was 
preparation made, as soon as scientific appliances could be 
so directed, to combat as erroneous and dangerous those 
decisions which had hitherto been considered as indifferent. 

In addition to this, there came an impulse from without. 
Earlier even than in Germany, a relaxed notion of inspira 
tion, nay, indeed, a notion reducing it to its very minimum, 
had spread itself in England. From the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, the writings of the laxer English clergy, 
of the Dissenters as well as of the Deists, had found an ever- 
increasing reception amongst the theologians of Germany. 
Besides, about the middle of the century, orthodox culture, 
and the inward spiritualism promoted by the pietists, had 
been superseded amongst many of the German divines by a 
purely literary interest. From the scrutiny of this new 

and " not to unite together and become one body, as his opponents 
interpreted him to mean, but to abstain from mutual hatred, and cul 
tivate mutual love and good-will." He was an Aristotelian in Philos 
ophy, as a theologian had strong sympathy with the Fathers, and 
wished to find in the " Apostles Creed " and the usages and doctrines 
of the first five centuries a common ground of union for the three great 
sections of German Christians, the Koman Catholic, the Lutheran, 
and the Reformed or Calvinist Churches. This doctrine was branded 
as "Syncretism." Mosh. Eccl. Hist, Cent. 17, Sect. 21. Notes by 
Schlegel. In. 
t Consilia Theologica I. p. 46 et seq. 


power, those contradictions which had been discovered 
indubitable fruits of historico-critical inquiry during the domi- 
nancy of the more rigid theory of inspiration could not 
remain concealed. The history of the middle of the eigh 
teenth century gives us the impression that that was a period 
of general mental indolence, not only in theology, but also in 
philosophy, in the arts, and in politics. Even that which had 
been retained from the earlier theory of inspiration, moved on 
now with difficulty only as a dead tradition, in respect to 
which living faith was quite as much wanting as courage for 
a total negation of it. Upon this age of indolence, about the 
middle of the century, there follows, in the second half of it, 
in the province of Theology as in others, an energetic striv 
ing to beat out new paths. The spirit of the age had been 
already alienated from the kernel of the earlier doctrines of 
faith ; it now began to break in pieces and cast away what 
yet remained of the shell, and to seek a new kernel. Thus 
the diminution of the dogma of inspiration, which had hitherto 
been ever advancing, at last degenerates into its complete 
negation. As one of the earliest representatives of the in 
cipient insecurity, who were still, through reverence for eccle 
siastical tradition, shy in taking bolder steps, the theologian 
Matthew Pfaff of Tubingen may be mentioned, whose lean 
ing towards the position occupied by Calixt and the Armin- 
ians but ill concealed itself behind a cautious phraseology.* 

The aim of this first part of our treatise has now been 
attained. It has been proved that the assumption of an in 
spiration extending to the entire contents, to the subject-matter 
and form of the sacred writings, has so little claim to the 
honor of being the only orthodox doctrine, that it has only 
been the opinion of, comparatively speaking, an exceedingly 
small fraction. Since now the symbolical writings of the 
Lutheran Church have not so much as once erected a barrier 
in the way of a freer construction of the doctrine, the Lu- 

* Introduction to his " Notaj Exeget. in Evangol. Matt." 1721. Also 
his " Institutional Theol. Dogm. et Moral." 1719. He died 1760. 


the ran, who is true to his symbols, can take no umbrage at 
the establishment of such a free construction.* 



WE have submitted, that belief in an absolute (schlecht- 
hinnige) inspiration of the Scripture was by no means first 
abandoned by Rationalism. So far from this being the case, 
we may say that at no period whatever was such an opinion 
generally entertained. During the period of ecclesiastical 
faith, first from the age of the Fathers up the Middle Ages, 
and then again from the Reformers to the beginning of the 
eighteenth century, we have observed an increasing restriction 
put upon those liberal definitions which had been received 
from the very beginning. If, then, a growing limitation might 
take place in the interest of Faith, there may be also a. 
growing freedom from limitation in the same interest. This 
will occur as soon as Faith has become more conscious of its 
peculiar nature, and has been distinguished from that which 
forms the peculiar business of science. After such earnest 
conflicts of science with the earlier forms of theology, in the 
midst of which Christendom became still more conscious of 
the foundations of faith, we in modern times have arrived at 
a point where a deeper apprehension of the doctrine of in 
spiration, derived from the nature of faith, should result as 
one of the fruits of those conflicts. 

Let us more accurately define the subject of inquiry. The 
question is not whether the Holy Scripture includes inviolable 

* The reader will remember that Professor Tholuck is a member of 
the Lutheran Church. Hence his justification. In England, also, we 
are in the main free from authoritative declarations on this point. While 
the Bible is firmly held to be of paramount authority as embodying the 
will of God to man, the rule of faith and practice, none but the ill- 
informed or bigoted will trench upon the inquirer s peace. TR. 


divine contents, a revelation from God. We profess faith 
in the contents of the Law, as revealed ; so of the Prophets ; 
and so of the teachings of Christ, and of the Apostles. Thus 
much any one may profess, and yet feel himself urged to 
abandon the inspiration of the Bible in the current sense of 
the term. 

By inspiration, as distinguished from revelation, is custom 
arily understood, since the time of Calovius, and especially 
since the time of Baumgarten,* the communication by God f 
of the entire written contents of Scripture, whether the matter 
written down was previously known to the writers or not. 
The most recent advocate of the more rigid theory, Professor 
Gaussen, says expressly that the Holy Spirit by inspiration 
did not at all aim at the illumination of the writers, they 
were nothing more than transient instruments, a view was 
had rather to their books. % 

Now we can well imagine the believer s heart, when pre 
disposed to take a side in favor of the more narrow theory, 
turning away with displeasure from any lax notions on the 
subject. Certainty in matters of faith depends upon a be 
lieving disposition ; properly, indeed, only certainty concern 
ing the true doctrine of salvation ; but still it may be asked, 
Can this certainty be sufficiently stable, if everything which 
stands, not only in direct, but also in indirect connection with 
this doctrine of salvation be not also true ? That absolute 
inspiration of the Holy Scriptures advocated by Professor 
Gaussen thus appears clearly to the Christian mind as a re 
ligious necessity. We must, however, first of all, draw atten- 

* " Do Discrimine Revelationis et Inspirationis." 1745. 

t " Die gottliche Eingebung." 

J " It is of consequence for us to say, and it is of consequence that it 
be understood, that this miraculous operation of the Holy Ghost had not 
the sacred writers themselves for its object, for these were only his in 
struments, and were soon to pass away ; but that its objects were the 
holy books themselves, which were destined to reveal from age to age to 
the Church the counsels of God, and which were never to pass away," 
Theopneustia. TB. 


tion to the fact that this external certainty is not wholly given 
therewith. Consider the position of the unlearned reader. 
What does it avail you, says the Roman Catholic, to have an 
infallible document, unless you have also an infallible trans 
lation ? And what could an infallible translation avail you, 
without an infallible interpretation ? Nay, verily, your learned 
men themselves, who abide by the original text, whence de 
rive they certainty concerning its correctness ? Does not the 
number of various readings in the New Testament alone, ac 
cording to modern calculation, exceed fifty thousand ? One can 
and must yield to our pious friend, Professor Gaussen, and 
confess that, essentially, the great majority of these readings 
are immaterial. But this is by no means the case with them 
all. That it is not indifferent, for example, whether the 
passage concerning the Trinity in 1 John v. 7, 8 be genuine 
or not, Professor Gaussen so decidedly acknowledges, that he 
believes the defence of the received reading must at all risks 
be undertaken, notwithstanding the passage is found in no 
Greek Codex except the Codex Britannicus* of the six 
teenth century ; in the Codex Ravianus, which is a copy 
partly from the Complutensian Polyglot and partly from the 
third edition of Stephens ; and in the Vulgate only since 
the tenth century. If one credible testimony in reference 
to this subject were not of equal weight with many, a hos4 
of others might easily be added ; but this instance must now 

The Christian who can feel his faith certain and out of 
danger only in a diplomatic attestation derived from without^ 
can find peace only by repairing to the (so-called) infallible 

* Codex Brit. Otherwise called Codex Montfortianus or Dublinensis. 
This is one of the cursive manuscripts, and belongs to the library of Trin 
ity College, Dublin. It closely resembles the Vulgate in the much dis 
puted passage referred to in the text, and in many others. Dr. Tholuck 
uses the title given it by Erasmus. Dr Davidson is of opinion that it 
could not have originated earlier than the fifteenth century. (Kitto s 
Cyclop., Art. Manuscript. Bibl.) TR. 

t An external written authority. TR. 


Roman pontiff. * But it is not well for us to prescribe to 
Divine wisdom the mode in which it may best and most safely 
conduct men to their object of pursuit (i. e. certainty of faith). 
Consider how former apologists for this strict theory of in 
spiration acted ; and, indeed, how its most recent apologist, 
already mentioned, acts. Their manner throughout, for ex 
ample, of giving prominence to the passage, " All Scripture 
is given by inspiration of God," 2 Tim. iii. 16, is as if their 
theory depended entirely upon the testimony of the Bible 
concerning itself. But, in truth, their argument all through 
depends simply upon what, in their estimation, is the de 
mand of the religious necessity in man. Are we so much 
as conscious whether it is not from this religious exigency that 
we sometimes even wish that the Scripture itself were quite 
differently arranged ? Who does not feel the need of possess 
ing an indubitable record from Christ s own hand? Who 
does not wish that the New Testament were equal in extent 
to the Old? Who, moreover, would not deem it a wiser 
arrangement, if, instead of giving us the first three Evange 
lists with similar contents, one of them had been directed 
carefully to record those passages in the life of Christ which 
they have now, all of them, entirely omitted ? Rightly has it 
been objected by Thiersch to Mohler s f construction of the 

* Comp. Tholuck s " Gesprache fiber die vornehmsten Glaubensfra- 
gen," p. 176. 

t Mohler (died 1838) is one of the ablest writers of the Roman Cath 
olic Church. He was once an adherent of Schleiermacher s views, but 
afterwards opposed them, and took a prominent part in the controversy 
against Protestantism. He, in company with Hermes, sought to base 
the Romish dogmas upon a more profound and philosophical basis, not 
by reference to Scripture and the practice of the early Church, but to the 
nature of man, and the exigencies of his position, considered b, priori. 
In short, he removed the data of the controversy entirely from the exter 
nal to the internal or subjective. In this manner, much against their in 
tention, the writings of Hermes and Mohler, by promoting a virtually 
Protestant spirit, namely, that of private judgment, did much towards 
undermining the authority and infallibility of the Pontiff and the Church. 
Vide Mohler s Patrologie; also his Symbolik. Mainz, 1832. TB. 


Church, that the whole argument rests upon an a priori accom 
modation of historical facts, upon a presumed divine necessity ; 
but that history, and even the history of the Church and of 
its corruption, takes shape, not according to opinions antece 
dently established in the mind of the student, but must be re 
ceived in the fashion in which it unfolds itself. "What can 
we say when we hear Bellarmine representing a divine in 
fallible translation of the Bible as a necessity on the ground 
of this fact, namely, that the great majority of those prelates 
who form the decrees of Councils are ignorant of Hebrew ! * 
Which were the more Christian wish, that the prelates, since 
the Old Testament has been written in Hebrew, should learn 
that language, or that, since the prelates have no inclination 
to do this, the sun should regulate itself according to the 
clock, and an infallible Latin Bible be added to the Hebrew ? 
It were wise for men not to prescribe the way for satisfying 
their religious wants, but rather submissively to seek to ap 
prehend the wisdom of God in that which has been given us 
by it. 

Granted that a theory of inspiration of a less rigid kind 
would abate in some measure the stringent proofs of our faith: 
how, then, would Pascal be right when he perceives divine 
wisdom in the fact that faith is not established by external 
evidences ? And is it not true that modern conviction, arrived 
at through doubt and internal conflict, is the possession of the 
believer much more fully than would have been the case by 
any divine contrivance by virtue of which, whenever a ques 
tion arose, an external oracle instantly supplied an answer ? 

We may therefore readily lend an ear, when so great a 
number of witnesses for the faith, after conscientious exami 
nation, assure us that that religious necessity to which men 
appeal in support of an absolute (schlechthinniges) inspira 
tion of the Scriptures cannot possibly be right, since in the 
very Scripture itself there are found decisive facts which 
stand opposed to it. We shall pursue our inquiry in the 
following order : 

* Opera, 1. De Verbo Deo, 2. 10. 


SECT. 1. Arguments against the absolute* inspiration 
of Scripture derived from the condition of the Biblical writ 
ings themselves. 

SECT. 2. Arguments to the same effect derived from the 
declarations of the Biblical writers concerning themselves. 

SECT. 3. Alleged proofs from Scripture itself of its 
absolute inspiration. 

SECT. 1. Arguments against the Absolute Inspiration and 
the Infallibility of Scripture, derived from the Nature of 
the Document itself. 

Were the Biblical writer, in the strict sense of the word, 
nothing more than an instrument of utterance through which 
God speaks to men, must we not also expect that no human 
imperfection in any respect should be contained in Scripture ? 
Not only must eternal truths be free from all error, and from 
all former imperfection ; but also the ordinary historical, geo 
graphical, and other facts must be correctly reported through 
out Nay, we might even demand the absence of all lingual 
imperfections. We have seen that a belief in inspiration 
to this very extent has been actually demanded by many. 
On the contrary, in relation to the language a Divine accom 
modation has been conceded by others. That the language 
of the New Testament in no respect varies from the Helle 
nistic Greek current at the time, is clear as daylight. It is 
true that it might be reasonably maintained that the Deity, in 
order to become intelligible to that generation, must speak to 
them not in classic Greek, to which they were not accustomed, 
but in the more corrupt dialect with which they were familiar. 

* From the general tenor of our author s language, it would appear 
that the original word, schlechthinnig , a word not yet in very common 
use among German writers, may be fairly represented by the word 
" absolute." By this term Professor Tholuck designates a theory which 
errs by excess of strictness and credulity, such as that of Professor 
Gaussen. TR. 


But then in the language of the New Testament books, not 
only dialectic, but also individual * characteristics of language 
appear. The style of Paul, and that of John, correspond 
entirely with what we know from other sources of the indi 
vidual characters of these Apostles respectively. If herein 
also one should wish to find a Divine accommodation to the 
manner of speech peculiar to these Apostles, such an assump 
tion would be the less satisfactory, since no adequate ground 
for any accommodation of the kind can be discovered. 

But in addition to this, especially in Paul, there are cer 
tain imperfections of style, f imperfections, too, founded in his 
own peculiarities. For example, his vivacity very frequent 
ly occasions him to leave a sentence unfinished, through for 
getting the conclusion. If the Divine accommodation is to 
be extended to these individual defects, then we must say that 
such a caricature of Divine accommodation is not only aim 
less, but, in so far as such defects actually embarrass the un 
derstanding, positively self-defeating. Assuredly, therefore, 
we have no choice but to abandon this position, and to admit 
the influence of human peculiarity upon the contents of Scrip 
ture. But even this must be farther extended, namely, to the 
form of the thoughts recorded. That is to say, the peculiarity 
of a Paul, of a John, or of a James, is to be understood as 
seen in the mode of putting forth Christian truth. The life 
of our Lord in the fourth Gospel, for example, is recorded in 
a manner different from that exhibited in any of the other 
three Gospels, a manner, indeed, which, from the person 
ality of John, is quite conceivable. 

As unto persons who from different elevations view the 
general mass of a town, the houses group themselves in 
various forms, and present different centres ; so the above- 

* That is, wherein the idiosyncrasies of the individual winters are ap 
parent. TR. 

t It is regretted that a passage on the defects of the Pauline style, to 
which Dr. Tholuck in a private communication refers us, cannot here be 
cited, the work containing it, Redepennig iller Oriyenes, not being with 
in reach. TR. 


mentioned Apostles present Christian truth under diversified 
points of view, according to their personal peculiarity, and 
according to the progress of their inward development. To 
Paul, the interposition of a righteousness by faitn, acquired 
through Christ, to John, the communication of a true eter 
nal life, to James, the illustration of the Jaw as a law of 
freedom, are the ground ideas respectively. And must 
this peculiarity, too, be nothing more than the product of a 
Divine imitation?* We cannot forbear inserting here the 
words of a profound writer, who has become an intellectual 
polar star to many inquiring minds in England and America, 
I mean Samuel Taylor Coleridge, f 

" Why should I not [believe the Scriptures throughout to 
be dictated, in word and thought, by an infallible intelligence] ? 
Because the doctrine in question petrifies at once the whole 
body of Holy Writ, with all its harmonies and symmetrical 
gradations, the flexile and the rigid, the supporting hard 
and the clothing soft, the blood which is the life, the in- 
telligencing nerves, and the rudely woven, but soft and stringy, 
cellular substance, in which all are imbedded and lightly bound 
together. This breathing organism, this glorious pan-harmon- 
icon, which I had seen stand on its feet as a man, and with a 
man s voice given to it, the doctrine in question turns at once 
into a colossal Memnon s head, a hollow passage for a voice ; 
a voice that mocks the voices of many men, and speaks in 
their names, and yet is but one voice and the same ; and no 
man uttered it, and never in a human heart was it conceived. 
Why should I not ? Because the doctrine evacuates of all 
sense and efficacy the sure and constant tradition, that all the 
several books bound up together in our precious family Bibles 
were composed in different and widely distinct ages, under the 

" Divine imitation/ gmtlicken Mimik. By these terms our author 
means, God interposing to produce effects similar to those which would 
naturally follow the idiosyncrasies of the writers : which, being unneces 
sary, and contrary to the analogy of the divine proceedings, is not to be 
admitted. TE. 

t Confessions of an Inquiring Spirit, pp. 31 - 36. Lond. 1840 


greatest diversity of circumstances and degrees of light and 
information, and yet that the composers, whether as uttering 
or as recording what was uttered and what was done, were all 
actuated by a pure and holy spirit, one and the same, (for 
is there any Spirit pure and holy, and yet not proceeding 
from God, and yet not proceeding in and with the Holy 
Spirit ?) one Spirit, working diversely, now awakening 
strength, and now glorifying itself in weakness ; now giving 
power and direction to knowledge, and now taking away the 
sting from error ! Ere the summer and the months of ripen 
ing had arrived for the heart of the race, while the whole 
sap of the tree was crude, and each and every fruit lived 
in the harsh and bitter principle, even then this Spirit with 
drew its chosen ministers from the false and guilt-making 
centre of self. It converted the wrath into the form and 
organ of love, and on the passing storm-cloud impressed the 
fair rainbow of promise to all generations. Put the lust of 
self in the forked lightning, and would it not be a spirit of 
Moloch ? But God maketh the lightning his ministers ; fire 
and hail, vapors and stormy winds, fulfilling his words. 

< Curse ye Meroz, said the angel of the Lord ; < Curse ye 
bitterly the inhabitants thereof, sang Deborah. Was it that 
she called to mind any personal wrongs, rapine or insult, that 
she or the house of Lapidoth had received from Jabin or 
Sisera? No: she had dwelt under the palm-tree in the 
depth of the mountain. But she was a mother in Israel ; 
and with a mother s heart, and with the vehemency of a 
mother s and a patriot s love, she had shot the light of love 
from her eyes, and poured the blessings of love from her lips, 
on the people that had jeoparded their lives to the death 
against the oppressors; and the bitterness awakened and 
borne aloft by the same love she precipitated in curses on 
the selfish and coward recreants who came not to the help of 
the Lord, to the help of the Lord against the mighty. As long 
as I have the image of Deborah before my eyes, and while 
I throw myself back into the age, country, circumstances, of 
this Hebrew Boadicea, in the not yet tamed chaos of the 


spiritual creation, as long as I contemplate the impassioned, 
high-souled, heroic woman, in all the prominence and individ 
uality of will and character, I feel as if I were among the 
first ferments of the great affections, the proplastic waves 
of the microcosmic chaos swelling up against, and yet towards, 
the outspread wings of the Dove that lies brooding on the 
troubled waters. So long all is well, all replete with instruc 
tion and example. In the fierce and inordinate I am made 
to know, and be grateful for, the clearer and purer radiance 
which shines on a Christian s paths, neither blunted by the 
preparatory veil, nor crimsoned in its struggle through the 
all-enwrapping mist of the world s ignorance ; whilst in the 
self-oblivion of these heroes of the Old Testament, their ele 
vation above all low and individual interests, above all, in the 
entire and vehement devotion of their total being to the 
service of their Master, I find a lesson of humility, a ground 
of humiliation, and a shaming, yet rousing, example of faith 
and fealty. But let me once be persuaded that all these 
heart-awakening utterances of human hearts, of men of 
like faculties and passions with myself, mourning, rejoicing, 
suffering, triumphing, are but as a Divina Commedia of a 
superhuman O, bear with me, if I say Ventriloquist ; 
that the royal Harper to whom I have so often submitted 
myself as a many-stringed instrument for his fire-tipped fingers 
to traverse, while every several nerve of emotion, passion, 
thought, that thinks the flesh and blood of our common hu 
manity, responded to the touch, that the sweet Psalmist of 
Israel was himself as mere an instrument as his harp an 
automaton ; poet, mourner, and suppliant, all is gone ; all 
sympathy at least, and all example. I listen in awe and fear, 
but likewise in perplexity and confusion of spirit." 

[Coleridge proceeds ,.s follows : 

" Yet one other instance, and let this be the crucial test of 
the doctrine. Say that the book of Job throughout was dic 
tated by an infallible intelligence. Then reperuse the bo*ok, 
and still, as you proceed, try to apply the tenet ; try if you 
can even attach any sense or semblance of meaning to the 


speeches which you are reading. What ! were the hollow 
truisms, the unsufficing half-truths, the false assumptions and 
malignant insinuations of the supercilious bigots, who cor 
ruptly defended the truth, were the impressive facts, the 
piercing outcries, the pathetic appeals, and the close and 
powerful reasoning with which the poor sufferer, smarting at 
cnce from his wounds, and from the oil of vitriol which the 
orthodox liars for God were dropping into them, impatiently 
but uprightly and holily controverted this truth, while in will 
and in spirit he clung to it, were both dictated by an infallible 
intelligence ? Alas ! if I may judge from the manner in which 
both indiscriminately are recited, quoted, appealed to, preached 
upon, by the routiniers of desk and pulpit, I cannot doubt that 
they think so, or rather, without thinking, take for granted 
that so they are to think ; the more readily, perhaps, because 
the so thinking supersedes the necessity of all afterthought."] 
But, what is of still greater importance, we also find 
throughout the Old and New Testaments numerous proofs of 
inaccuracy in statements of fact. An anxious orthodoxy has 
of course endeavored to rebut these accusations, and every 
where to maintain absolute accuracy. This has been accom 
plished, however, only by so many artificial and forced sup 
ports, that the Scripture set right after this fashion wears 
more the appearance of an old garment with innumerable 
seams and patches, than of a new one made out of one entire 
piece. It is quite true that the adversaries of Christianity 
have professedly fallen upon many discrepancies where none 
are really to be found ; but in many places, where we can 
compare Scripture with Scripture, we meet with difficulties 
where either the contradiction will not admit of removal at 
all, or but very imperfectly. In proportion as the reader is 
destitute of the skill which learning gives, in that proportion 
will he be unconscious of these facts, and be prepared con 
fidently to boast in his defence of a verbal inspiration, for 
" What one does not know, gives him no annoyance." * This 

* " Was ich nicht weiss, macht mich nicht heiss." Prov. 



.remark is applicable, too, to our excellent friend Professor 
Gaussen, who, in his book already quoted, has given such an 
eloquent vindication of plenary inspiration. 

By way of proof, we must enter into some details. Out of 
numberless instances, however, we shah 1 select only a few: 
for if by one or two proofs the matter appears beyond dis 
pute, there is no need to multiply arguments. Entire accu 
racy throughout can no longer be maintained. We make a 
distinction between errors in translation and errors in fact, 
which occur in the Biblical writers. 

1. The New Testament authors have made abundant use 
of the Greek translation executed in Alexandria, called the 
Septuagint.* This was natural, since this translation was not 
only generally known to the Jews who spoke the Greek lan 
guage, but, at the time of the rise of Christianity, was also in 
high repute in Palestine. Now there are found in several 
books of that Greek translation, especially in the Book of 
Psalms, not a few material misapprehensions of the proper 
sense ; or, at least, readings differing from our Hebrew text, f 
Notwithstanding this, however, the writers of the New Testa 
ment, here and there, even when the argument depends upon 
particular words, go not to the original Hebrew text, but 
follow the Greek translation. This Professor Gaussen admits 
in page 236 of his work. J He assumes, however, through 
the whole of his defence, that he has made good the position 
that the Apostolical writers in all those places where stress is 
laid on the quotation, have actually made their quotations 
from the original Hebrew. This judgment is in this general 
sense incorrect. It is true in reference to Paul and Matthew ; 
but our author forgets the Epistle to the Hebrews, in which 
the original (Hebrew) text is never attended to, not even in 
those places where the author argues from passages which, as 

* On this version see Dr. Davidson s article in Kitto s Cyclop, of 
Bibl. Liter., sub voce. 

t Comp. Davidson s Sacred Hermeneutics, pp. 334, 338, et seq. Also 
Dr. Henderson s Lect. on Div. Insp., p, 375, 2d ed. 

J Engl. Transl., p. 84. 


they are translated, exhibit material errors. * We admit that 
many of the older orthodox interpreters attempted, at least 
with some of these passages, to explain the Old Testament 
text in the sense adopted by the author of this Epistle, f But 
the passage (chap. ii. 13) quoted from Isa. viii. 17, 18, Luther 
explains, and the rest Calvin explains, in the sense demanded 
by their Old Testament connection, without any regard to the 
manner in which they are quoted in our Epistle. From the 
author s way of arguing from Old Testament passages, it can 
scarcely be maintained that they were merely applied for 
hortatory purposes. This would not readily be conceded 
even by the advocates of strict orthodoxy. If this solution 
then is rejected, we are not aware that any others remain to 
help us to avoid the concession, that passages of Scripture 
quoted incorrectly, and in a way not altogether corresponding 
with their proper original meaning, have been used by way of 

2. We leave this part of our subject, and pass on to inac 
curacies in matters of fact. When such inaccuracies must be 
proved by instances of collision between the Biblical and 
extra-Biblical witnesses, the Christian, having faith in the 
Bible, will hesitate to admit their existence. But he can 
hardly persist in his hesitation, if cases are adduced where 
the writers report either the very words of our Lord, or 
matters of pure fact, with irreconcilable variations the one 
from the other. It is true that here also many charges of 
contradiction have been proved to be groundless. Some, 
however, remain, where the Christian critic cannot with 
the most candid mind disown discrepancies, discrepancies 
in which one only of the reports given can be faithful. 
The Sermon on the Mount, according to Luke vi. and Matt, 
v. -vii., presents, in this twofold narration, such manifold 
variations, that many of the older commentators assumed the 

* Comp. chap, ii 6, 12, 13 ; x. 5 ; xii. 26. 

t Dr. Tholuck controverts the Pauline authorship of the Epistle to 
the Hebrews, and deems the weight of evidence to be rather in favor of 
Apollos. TR. 


delivery of two separate Sermons on the Mount, and to this 
solution of the difficulty Professor Gaussen still adheres. The 
opposite view, however, was adopted by Chemriitz and Calo- 
vius, and is also received by all the more recent writers of the 
present century. If we grant this, then the confession ap 
pears unavoidable that the same ideas are reproduced by the 
two Evangelists in different forms. The ideas expressed by 
Matt. v. 40 and vii. 16, are in those places given forth in 
a different form from what they assume in Luke vi. 29, 44. 
Matt. vii. 12 differs from Luke vi. 31. Now when Chem 
nitz, in order to establish the thorough correctness of the 
narrations, assumes that the same thought in the same dis 
course may have been twice expressed by our Lord in a 
different form and position, he only introduces a makeshift, 
which, while it removes from the reporters the charge of dis 
crepancy, reflects no little discredit upon the method of dis 
coursing adopted by Christ himself. With Luke vi. 29 and 
Matt. v. 40 he has not been bold enough to use this expedient, 
although he was compelled to admit that by the two Evan 
gelists the violence supposed to be committed is represented 
under different forms.* 

Stier also, who deems it altogether objectionable to admit 
that in Matthew, who was an Apostle, there is found any 
departure whatever from historical accuracy, has been com 
pelled to allow in Luke what in Matthew he has protested 
against, t He has even given up generally the defence of 
verbal truth and correctness. " The Spirit of God," he says, 

* Luke vi. 29. " And him that taketh away thy cloak, forbid not to 
take thy coat also." 

Matt. v. 40. " And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take 
away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also." 

These and many other similar variations must be fatal to any theory 
of verbal inspiration ; but since on either side the ethical principle enforced 
is the same, the value of the Bible as the depository of moral and re 
ligious truth is not necessarily affected. Comp. also Luke vi. 20-23, 
and Matt. v. 3 - 12 ; Luke vi. 30, and Matt. v. 42 ; Luke vi. 27, 28, 35 
and Matt. v. 44, 45. TR. 

t Stier s Reden des Herrn nach Matt., pp, 170, 308. 


"so put the Evangelists in mind of the discourses of our 
Lord, that they might write them, not word for word, or with 
entire fulness according to the letter ; but the Spirit of Truth 
has withal permitted no essential untruth whatsoever to oc 
cur." * Professor Gaussen alone persists in maintaining that 
such formal diversities, where found, must have as their origi 
nator the Holy Spirit himself, to whom (he says) it is per 
mitted to express the same thought in various forms of lan 
guage. Certainly. Only it must be remembered that along 
with this is also given up the strictly faithful recording of the 
discourses of our Lord, who actually delivered them only in 
one of two ways. 

If, now, by an examination of the Scripture in detail, we 
discover a human side, on account of which the Bible is not 
to be declared free from defects and errors, then the question 
is, How can a theory of inspiration, which shall be consistent 
with these phenomena, be established ? The historical part 
of this treatise has proved how by a great number of theo 
logians, both Protestant and Catholic, a positive Divine co 
operation was asserted only in relation to that portion of the 
contents of Holy Writ which was revealed, or the truths 
which were the proper objects of faith ; | from which position 
it follows that revelation and inspiration are identical. As it 
regards the remaining contents, it was held that a negative 
Divine efficacy was present, serving as a defence against vital 
error, i. e. error damaging to the doctrine of faith. To this, 
as we have seen above, amounts the language of Stier even, 
if we take into account certain portions of his writings ; al 
though, judging from others, he approximates more nearly 
than any other German theologian to the older idea of in 
spiration ; so also the views of the more recent English theo 
logians, among the Dissenters as well as among the clergy of 
the Episcopal Church. Dr. Henderson designates it as the 
fruit of prejudice to say that the Holy Scripture in all its 

* S tier s Reden des Herrn nach Matt., p. 74. 
t " Den eigentlichen Glaubenswahrheiten." 


parts alike has been inspired by the Spirit of God in such a 
manner as that thereby human co-operation was superseded.* 

The prevailing doctrine, even in the strictest form of it, 
both in the Catholic and in the Protestant Church, makes 
such a distinction between the separate contents of Scripture, 
as must necessarily lead, at least, to a charitable judgment of 
the difference of opinion which has obtained upon the subject. 
We have already seen how Thomas Aquinas made a distinc 
tion between that truth which is given by God principaliter, 
as the proper object of faith, and those other portions of Scrip 
ture which belong to faith only indirectly.^ The most rigid 
writers upon dogmatic theology amongst the Lutherans, \ 
make a similar distinction between that which belongs to faith 
generally, and that which belongs to faith specially considered: 
to the latter belong only the dogmas of faith ; to the former, 
all the remaining contents of Scripture. The opinion of the 
Jesuit Tanner, that all things whatsoever which the Bible 
contains, " even the account of the fox-tails of Samson, and 
the building of the tower of Babel," &c., belong to the articles 
of religious faith, is nothing less than ridiculous. 

It is therefore clear, that when these theologians feel con 
strained to draw the fence of inspiration around the entire 
written word, it is only from the apprehension that, if this 
were not done, the portion which properly belongs to faith 
would thereby be made insecure. In one place this fence 
cannot be completed. Even by the most stringent defenders 
of inspiration no means have been discovered whereby they 
could evade the confession that it does not lie before us diplo 
matically certain ; but that the decision concerning it must be 
left to the scientific investigations of the learned. The con 
sequence which results from this is one of importance. The 
Bible, as it appears to us, can in no case pass as verbally 
inspired ; therefore also its contents cannot in all their details 

* Lect. on Div. Insp., p. 296 et seq., 2d ed. 
t Vide p. 76, ante. 

t Quenstedt, Theol. Didact. Polem., Tom. I. 4, 2, 5 ; and 
TheoL P osit. Proleg., Sect. 133. 


throughout be considered as externally guaranteed. Professor 
Gaussen himself is forced to allow this ; and he rests satisfied 
with admiring that Divine guidance whereby things are so 
brought about, that, notwithstanding the great uncertainty 
which , surrounds individual " readings," yet no Scripture 
truth which is an object of faith ( Glaubenswahrheit) is un 
settled, since each rests upon more than one passage, and even 
the various readings only give shades, and not real diversity 
of meaning. Now if this consideration suffices here to give 
comfort to the mind, why should it not avail also if failure of 
memory, and errors in certain historical, chronological, geo 
graphical, and astronomical details must be admitted ? and if 
here and there a passage appears to be spurious ? or if, 
amongst the canonical books, a few are found that are un- 
canonical ? It is an undeniable fact, that hundreds of the 
most distinguished Christians, who have brought forth fruit in 
joyful faith, and have stood forth in that respect prominently 
as Christian exemplars, have thus judged concerning the 
Scriptures, and have nevertheless been ready to lay down 
their life for the Gospel. 

We proceed upon the same ground as that upon which, 
with the Christian, the Divine evidence of an inspiration of 
the Scripture rests, and say : This belief entirely coincides 
with, and stands entirely in relation to, belief in the Divine 
contents.* Faith in a Divine inspiration of Scripture relates, 
first of all, to that truth witnessed by the " demonstration of 
the Spirit and of power," by which (according to 1 Cor. ii. 4) 
the Apostle established belief in his preaching in the hearts 
of the Corinthians ; that is, the Christian doctrine of salvation. 
This doctrine approves itself to us as truth, when the man 
becomes conscious that his intercourse with God is re-estab- 

* That is, we have Divine evidence of the inspiration of Scripture 
only from those parts which have been derived from God. The further 
question, what parts have been thus derived, must be determined by a 
variety of considerations, but principally by that which our author pro 
ceeds to consider ; i. e. the fitness to produce moral effects towards 
making perfect the :nan of God. Tft. 


lished ; that for time and for eternity he enters into proper 
relation to his God ; that thus, and thus alone, he can become 
a true man of God.* " If the Spirit of God," he may ask, 
" had not exerted a ruling power over the recordi ng of this 
saving truth, and of the facts upon which the truth iy founded, 
how could the recorded word have this effect upon me ? " If 
we Christians of the present day ascribe to the written word 
of the Lord what those servants of the High-Priest ascribed 
to the word then spoken to them, f must not the written be 
substantially the same as the spoken word ? If we also ex 
claim, after reading the Scripture about the holy sufferings 
and death of the Lord, as that centurion did after he had 
witnessed them, " Truly this man was the Son of God ! " t 
must not these sufferings and this death, in all their essential 
features, have been faithfully recorded to us ? We are speak 
ing of fidelity of record with respect to words and facts essen 
tially. It may be a matter of dispute, a hundred times over, 
where the line of demarcation between the essential and non- 
essential is to be drawn ; but that such a distinction, although 
subject to uncertainty, does really exist, is witnessed by the 
speech and logic of every nation where the question has 
been entertained. There is much that is non-essential, which 
still in some respects touches the essential ; but there is also 
that which does not touch it at all. The words, like the facts, 
of Scripture, have a kernel and a shell. To the former, the 
witness of the Holy Spirit is direct and absolute ; to the 
latter, only indirect and relative. The great idea that the 
disciple of the Lord, in so far as his own selfish interest alone 
is concerned, suppressing the slightest tendency to vindic- 
ti^sness, should seek by kindness to subdue his enemy, 
remains entirely the same, whether Christ uses the example 
of him who, when sued at law, yields up his cloak in addition 
to his coat, as Matthew puts it, or that of him who on the 
highway is robbed of his cloak, and yields up his coat also, as 
Luke puts it. || The fact of our Lord s resurrection remains 

* 2 Tim. iii. 17. t The allusion is probably to John vii. 46. 
\ Marls, xv. 39. f Chap. v. 40. II Chap. vi. 29. 


equally certain, whether he first appeared to these persons or 
to those. The Evangelists have even passed over in entire 
silence the important appearing to the five hundred, of whom 
Paul speaks in 1 Cor. xv. 6. 

This belief in saving truth and fact leads us on still farther. 
The word of the Lord makes us certain that the Apostolical 
writers of New Testament books must have written by the 
Spirit of God, because as bearers of this his word, and as 
promoters of his work, they received from him the promise 
of the Holy Ghost.* If this Spirit inspired f them during 
their oral report, how could he fail them in their written re 
port ? Always, indeed, holding fast that distinction already 
mentioned of essential and non-essential, we shall still feel 
convinced of this, that neither upon the communication of 
historical knowledge, gained by their own experience, nor 
upon the revelation which they had received from God, could 
their natural subjectivity exercise any obscuring influence. 
And faith in Christian truth and fact, thus confirmed, like 
faith in their inspiration, will now also determine our convic 
tions concerning the Old Testament religion. That the Mo 
saic economy according to its ritual part was in a symboli co- 
dogmatical respect, according to its ethical part in an ethical 
respect, a preparative to the Christian economy, even the 
imperfectly enlightened but ingenuous inquirer cannot deny. 
But the luminous eye of that dispensation, through which pre 
eminently the preparing Spirit, which diffuses itself through 
out all, gleams upon us, is the prophetic part. "The more 
clearly we perceive this in the documents written a thousand 
years before, the more unquestionable does it appear that 
there is a Divine co-operation in the production of the record. 
If moral and religious perfection, if the kingdom of God in 
Christ upon earth be the highest aim of humanity, must not 
that document which is the most powerful agent in promoting 
this, and in which Christendom has had. and still has, the 
fertilizing spring and the guiding rule of faith, be an especial 

* Comp. John xiv. 26 ; xv. 26, 27 ; xvi. 12 - 14. 
+ Beseden, to animate, to quicken, 


object of that Providence which controls the events of the 
world ? In other words, must not far other than ordinary 
means have been used for the purpose of its record and pres 
ervation ? Suppose that of the written monuments of classical 
antiquity no authors had been preserved except those of the 
iron and brazen ages, or that the works of the silver and 
golden ages had come down t9 us only in copies which were 
thoroughly corrupt and unrestorable by any criticism, what 
then had become of our classic culture ? In like manner, 
what had become of our Christian culture if nothing had been 
handed down to us from Christian antiquity except perhaps 
the Apocryphal books of the Old Testament, or the General 
Epistles of the New, or even the Gospels, in a state at once 
mutilated and no longer capable of being deciphered? It 
were presumption to declare upon mere a priori grounds 
what Providence ought to have done or ought to have pre 
vented, in order to have secured for us a record answering to 
all the conditions of a sufficing certainty. But that Provi 
dence must be eminently active in this respect is an unavoid 
able supposition to every one to whom the religio-moral sig- 
nificancy of this record in history has become manifest, And 
have we not in this collection of books, embracing a period of 
more than three thousand years, the clearest proofs of a con 
trolling Providence ? We have already mentioned that, in 
spite of the fifty thousand various readings found in the New 
Testament, the sense of it in the main remains steadfast.* 
Further, a criticism, which in part has been led on by a 
decidedly negative interest, has for a hundred and fifty years 
submitted the books of both Old and New Testaments, in a 
body, to the most fiery ordeal. And with what result ? In 
as far as it pertains to the principal books of the New Testa 
ment at least, if we omit a very small minority of German 

* " It has been truly said, that such is the character of the New Tes 
tament Scriptures, that the worst copy of the Greek text, and the worst 
translation, represent the original with sufficient accuracy to secure all 
the highest ends of Christian instruction." Rev. S. H. Godwin, Introd. 
Lect. at opening of New Coll. TK. 


theologians who are of a contrary opinion, a growinglj 
strong conviction among learned men of their authenticity. 
This Bible, written by kings, herdsmen, priests, fishermen, 
and tent-makers, and entirely as if by accident bound to 
gether into a whole, does it not nevertheless produce the 
impression of a collection of documents put together with the 
most, careful deliberation ? From the creation of man and 
his fall, to the apocalyptic proclamation, " Behold, I make all 
things new," one book, stretching thus over the entire field of 
the history of mankind, leads them on in their journey from 
its very beginning to its close. In the Old Testament, as in 
the New, we have first of all the divine facts presented, then 
such books as exhibit the faith and spirit of the community 
which by those facts have been confirmed, and lastly, the pro 
phetical writings which conduct from the Old Testament to the 
New, and from this again to the " new heaven and new earth " 
where the consummation of redemption shall be realized ! 

We have now come to the close. We have declared what, 
with respect to inspiration, is certain to faith, what, even 
to every common Christian reader, admits of certainty, 
upon the ground of the testimony of the Spirit and of power. 
What is not here embraced belongs more properly to scientific 
research. The faith which has become conscious of its own 
nature will readily yield to science its due province in this re 
spect. A sound condition of the Church cannot be thought of 
without science ; for though it be granted that science has, in 
(he service of human over-curiousness and unbelief, a hundred 
times brought injury to the Church, still we are bold to aver 
that in the service of truth, morality, and faith it has quite 
as frequently brought life and blessing to the Church. We 
know well that timid minds will be frightened to find that 
upon so many points they are dependent on the investigations 
of learned men. If this does not satisfy that these points are 
by no means essential, there is no help for them. There are 
suspicious souls who, if celestial spirits made their appearance 
to them, would not believe unless they brought authorized 
written certificates from another world. We Christians, how- 


ever, who occupy a higher platform than that of written cer 
tificates as vouchers, must learn to believe in the witness of 
the Spirit. What would a Paul say to him whose faith hi 
the Son of God would be doubtful, because he did not know 
whether, in Acts xx. 28, the correct reading was " the Church 
of God " or " the Church of the Lord " ; or because he could 
not feel certain whether "vinegar," as Matthew says,* or 
" wine mingled with myrrh," as Mark says, f was offered to 
the Saviour on the cross ; or whether Christ healed the blind 
man on his entrance into, or on his departure from Jericho ; J 
or whether the passage, John xxi. 24, 25, was subjoined by 
John himself, or by a friend of his ? To such a doubter, I 
say, what would a Paul answer ? He would tell him, " Man, 
thy hour is not yet come ! " 

* Matt, xxvii. 34. t Mark xv. 23. 

t Comp. Matt xx. 29 ; Mark x. 46 ; Luke xviii. 35. 




" Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written for our learn 
ing, that we, through patience and comfort of the Scriptures, might 
have hope." Romans xv. 4. 

THE study of history has always been allowed to be one 
of the happiest means of awakening and improving the mind. 
It has even been called wisdom, teaching by instances. For, 
if it rise in any degree to its high vocation, it summons the 
men of past times to move before us as they lived ; it enables 
us to hear them, though dead, yet speak ; to appreciate, per 
haps, the difficulties which surrounded them ; and, by the un 
conscious effect of sympathy, to ingraft on our own minds the 
power of confronting with no less manliness any similar trials 
which may possibly beset our path. So eminently is this 
true, that the man who has traced with throbbing heart the 
career of great patriots, stricken down perhaps by overwhelm 
ing odds, or of great thinkers, who have either embodied their 
wisdom in legislation, or bid the eloquent page glow with its 
record for ever, has in all probability assimilated himself in 
some measure to the mighty of whom he has read : for he 
has lived over in thought what was their life in act : he has 
thus drunk into their spirit, and by breathing a kindred 
atmosphere has become partaker of their very nature. 


But if such assertions may be ventured of great men and 
deeds in general, they more emphatically apply to such 
records as we have inherited of the earnest aspirations of 
good men, in any time or country, to the eternal Source of 
their being, and the mysterious Controller of their destiny. 
That solemn ritual of Greek tragedy, which our own Milton 
did not disdain to recommend as a repository of " grave, sen 
tentious wisdom " ; those orators who could tell an incensed 
multitude, that they rejoiced in having brought down on their 
country a disastrous defeat (if Heaven so ordered it), rather 
than see her forfeit her old character for honor, and her con 
sciousness of ^elf-respect ; those still loftier teachers, to whom 
their country s mythology was only the fanciful expression of 
a far higher and more remote, yet ever-present principle ; and 
he, who declared the world to bear as clear a testimony to its 
Author, as a finished poem does to the existence of a poet, 
while no really great man, he thought, could be without a 
certain divine inspiration, all these, I say, and other records 
of kindred meaning, stir us with an emotion of sympathy far 
deeper than is inspired by the ordinary subjects of the his 
torian. We watch with intense interest such men groping 
their way towards an eminence of light, on which not our 
own arm has placed us ; we sigh at the weakness of our race, 
as we occasionally see them wander in some hopeless maze of 
speculation; and we can scarcely refrain from an exulting 
cry, when some pure conscience and reaching intellect seems 
almost to lay hands " unknowingly " upon the very mercy-seat 
of the unsearchable I AM THAT I AM. 

Yet after all, the result accruing from such teachers among 
the Gentiles is rather touching our hearts with wholesome 
emotion, than furnishing our minds with any groundwork on 
which doctrine may be reared. "We read them as sympathiz 
ing critics, but cannot sit at their feet as pupils. We have 
need therefore to look elsewhere for more definite teaching. 
And if we seek such aid in the Hebrew Scriptures, we soon 
find reason to believe, that He who nowhere kept himself 
without witness yet gave the Spirit in larger measure to those 


who knew him by his name Jehovah, and worshipped him on 
Sion, the mountain of his holy place. Nor is it necessary 
here to dwell on that mere external evidence, which in itself 
is not unimportant. The space which custom allots me may 
be more profitably employed in directing your thoughts to 
some of the characteristic features of the books themselves. 

We are speaking now of the Hebrew Scriptures. Perhaps 
the first thing to notice is the manifest fidelity of the writers, 
both as respects the manners of their country, the character 
of the people described, and the infirmities, nay, the very 
crimes even, of men whom they delight to honor. We read 
in their pages of life as it now exists in the East ; and as it 
may be believed with partial variation to have existed for 
many ages. We find no attempt to represent king, or prophet, 
or priest, as perfect : the tyranny of one, the passion of an 
other, the weak connivance of the third, are set forth in their 
naked simplicity. And this ingenuous character is the more 
striking, because it is directly opposed to the usual genius of 
Oriental narrative, which delights rather in pompous and in 
flated exaggeration. It is also opposed more especially to the 
writings of the later Scribes and Rabbins, which abound in la 
borious trifling and transparent fable. Nor can any reason be 
given for this superiority of the older books more obviously 
true, than that the writers conceived themselves to be acting 
under a responsibility of a strictly religious kind. They took 
up the pen to celebrate events which were not merely the 
triumphs of their race, but the manifestations of the power 
and the truth of the Lord God of Israel. They had heard 
that he abhorreth the sacrifice of lying lips, and they would 
not blot the Scriptures animated by his Spirit with any lying 
legend, or cunningly devised fable. Hence arises (what, as 
far as the East is concerned, seems to have been then un 
precedented) the strictly historical and trustworthy character 
of Hebrew literature. Growing up under the shadow of the 
temple, superintended by those who worshipped a God of 
truth in the beauty of holiness, yet read every seventh year 
in the ears of all the people, it 1ms that double guaranty 


which is derived from intelligent and sacerdotal authority, 
and from exposure to the contemporaneous criticism of masses 
of mankind. Even those books, such as Kings and Chroni 
cles, which dwell chiefly on the outward history of the nation, 
have hence no common interest. They carry us as it were 
behind the scenes of an important part in the great drama of 
the history of the world. They show us events happening, 
and the subtle causes which produced them ; man proposing, 
but God disposing; Israel rebelling, and Jehovah smiting; 
Cyrus rearranging his conquests, and Jehovah (whom th(< 
conqueror knew not) wielding him as an instrument to restore 
his people Israel. 

Yet a still higher interest attaches itself to this collection 
of records, when we consider them as a history emphatically 
of religion : that is, in the first place, of the aspiration of the 
human heart to its Creator.* For we then read of men of 
like passions with ourselves, treading a course which resem 
bles in its great analogies our own ; men now striving, and 
now at peace ; now sinning, and (as a consequence) suffering ; 
now crying unto the Lord, and the Lord hearing them, and 
delivering them out of all their trouble. It is from this point 
of view, that the Book of Psalms, in particular, may come 
home to every one of our hearts. Who cannot trace, in the 
vivid delineation of the Psalmist s personal experience, in his 
humiliation, his strong crying, and his tears, his trust in God, 
his firm assurance of the final triumph of the right, a type, as 
it were, and a portrait by forecast, alike of the struggles of 
whatever is noblest in the whole human race, and especially 
of Him, its great Captain and its Head, who was to cherish 
the almost expiring flame, until he made the struggle end in 
victory ? Do we fret, as it were, in uneasy anxiety at our 

* If any one supposes such a sentence as this either to exclude the 
preparations of the heart by God s providence and grace, or to imply 
indifference or despair as to truth (as if thoughts and inferences were 
less trustworthy than sensations), I can only wonder at his ingenuity in 
misunderstanding. What would such a person think of the first and 
second books of Hooker ? 


short life, and its ever-threatening end, the Psalmist teaches 
us to make such fear an instrument of spiritual growth. 
* Lord, let me know mine end, and the number of my days, 
that I may be certified how long I have to live." " Teach me 
to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom." 
Yet, notwithstanding such appeal, do our spirits sink within 
us, either for our own backsliding, or for the blasphemy of 
the multitude on every side ? How is such a feeling expressed 
better than in the words, " My heart panteth, my strength 
hath failed me : and the sight of mine eyes hath gone from 
me. My lovers and my neighbors did stand looking upon my 
trouble ; . . . . and they that went about to do me evil talked of 
wickedness, and imagined deceit all the day long " ? Would 
we have some one, alike righteous and friendly, to whom we 
may appeal with confidence ? " Lord, thou knowest all my 
desire, and my groaning is not hid from thee. O Lord my 
God, be not thou far from me." Or does the consciousness of 
our own unworthiness bow us down, so that almost we say 
with St. Peter, " Depart from me, O Lord, for I am a sinful 
man " ? Again, we may adopt the piteous cry, " Innumerable 
troubles are come about me ; my sins have taken such hold 
upon me, that I am not able to look up ; yea, they are more 
in number than the hairs of my head, and my heart hath 
failed me." " O Lord, let it be thy pleasure that is, let it 
be the will of thy free grace to deliver me ; make haste, 
Lord, to help me." 

But, again, are such hopes and aspirations the jest of the 
ungodly, and do the drunkards make songs upon us, because 
we mourn in our prayer, and are vexed ? " Fret not thyself," 
says the same faithful monitor, " because of the ungodly ; 
neither be dismayed at the proud doer : yet a little while, and 
the ungodly shall be clean gone : hope thou in the Lord, and 
keep his way : when the ungodly shall perish, thou shalt see 
it." Yet does the kingdom of Heaven tarry, and the founda 
tions of the earth seem out of course ? " Tarry thou the 
Lord s leisure," is still the precept ; " be strong, and he shall 
comfort thine heart " : let the man of the earth leave much 

118 HOLY SCkll TURK. 

substance for his babes ; but as for us, we will behold the 
presence of God iii righteousness : the day eometh for us to 
be satisfied with his presence, when we wake up transformed 
according to his likeness. 

What is it, then, brethren, which afflicts us ? Sickness, and 
pining, of the body or of the heart, shrinking from the sneer 
of the wicked, remorse for our own sin, fear of again offend 
ing, fear of death, and of the dim unseen which is behind 
death? In all these things the Psalmist persuades us we are 
more than conquerors ; for in the light which God shed upon 
him in the valley of shadows we too see light : we too have a 
share in the songs of faith, which God his maker gave him in 
the night of his affliction. Said not the Apostle well, there 
fore, " Whatsoever things were written aforetime, were written 
for our learning ; that we, through patience and comfort of 
the Scriptures, might have hope " ? 

It may be interesting to remark here, that, although a very 
rigid criticism would find slender grounds for determining how 
many of the Psalms were absolutely written by David the 
son of Jesse, there is a sufficient consonance between the 
events of his life and the sentiments of a large portion of the 
number, to countenance decidedly that belief, which was the 
tradition alike of the Jewish Church and of our own. There 
is the same contrast in the life between David innocent and 
David guilty, as in the Psalms between his joyful exuberance 
of trust and his deep cry of remorse. Contrast in your 
memories the shepherd stripling, with his heart yet unstained, 
going forth to do battle with the giant warrior, and the guilty 
king ascending the hill with downcast brow, not daring to let 
his mighty men scourge the Benjamite, who had cursed the 
Lord s anointed. " Let him curse ; the Lord hath said unto 
him, Curse David." Now this is the difference between inno 
cence and guilt. Even so, how jubilant the cry of commun 
ion with his God : " The Lord is my strength : whom then 
shall I fear ? " And how sad the agony of penitence : " Deep 
calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts ; all thy 
waves have gone over me ; my son! is full of trouble, and my 
life draweth nigh unto hell." 


May we not learn there, brethren, the eternal and inefface 
able difference between doing the thing which is right, and 
forsaking the law of Him whose name is Holy ? And was 
not such a lesson one of the principal reasons for which Scrip 
ture was written ? Yet even in such dark depths we find 
Scripture still written for our consolation : since a way of 
sighs and tears, but still a way of hope, is pointed to in the 
words : " Thou shalt make me hear of joy and gladness, that 
the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice." 

On turning forward to the Prophets, we find their general 
character is very much the same. One of their most striking 
features is their evidently intense perception of spiritual 
truths. This is the more remarkable, because mere religion 
(as taught by a priesthood) has been thought sometimes to 
blunt the moral sense, by making the Deity an arbitrary 
being, who acts apart from the eternal laws of right. Where 
as it is apparent on the face, that neither the Psalmist nor the 
Prophets had any low or mean conception of the services 
of that sanctuary where the honor of Jehovah dwelt. The 
Psalms were in fact the main part of the Jewish liturgy ; for 
the strains which now sweep through Westminster Abbey are 
the same as were chanted of old in the temple of Sion ; and 
the Prophets never burst out into such indignant strains, as 
when their hearts burn within them at the sight of altars 
thrown down, the ark taken, or the temple defiled. Yet with 
all this, they ever lay most emphatic stress upon the weightier 
matters of the Law ; upon the moral dispositions, and mental 
being, which are both the graces of the Holy Spirit and the 
processes by which we grow up into the full stature of the 
children of God. 

If the hands are full of unjust gain, u bring no more in 
cense, it is an abomination." If the feet are swift to evil, 
" who hath required it of you to tread my courts ? saith the 
Lord." Will your solemn assemblies at new moons, and your 
Sabbaths, atone for a double heart, and for adding sin to sin ? 
Can you by passionate prayers and ceremonial observances 
make a covenant with death ? That is indeed to make lies 


your refuge. Judgment and righteousness are the line and 
the plummet with which the Lord layeth his sure foundation- 
stone. " Come now, let us reason together, saith the Lord : 
if your sins be as scarlet, shall they* be as white as snow? if 
they be red like crimson, shall they (at the same time) be as 
wool?" Think it not, is the inexorable answer implied in 
the original : but " if ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat 
the good of the land." " Wash you, make you clean : cease 
to do evil." " Let the wicked forsake his way, and the un 
righteous man his thoughts : and let him return unto the 
Lord, for he will (then) have mercy upon him ; and to our 
God, for he will abundantly pardon." 

We have in such texts, which might be multiplied indefi 
nitely, distinct intimation of the irreconcilable aversion of the 
Almighty to any form of moral evil, yet of his abundant 
readiness to pardon and save the sinner returning from his 
sin. Now it is this truly spiritual character of the Bible 
which fits it to be a book for all nations. Hence we do not 
fear to put it in the hands of the most ignorant, not indeed 
disparaging other means of grace, or forgetting that Scriptural 
language may be made the vehicle of the worst passions, and 
alleged to support the most dangerous errors : but we do so in 
the conviction, that to the pure all things are pure, and in the 
trust that He whose word came of old to prophets and teach 
ers of righteousness, will not suffer even the record of the 
same word which then came to return altogether empty. 
Hence also our anxiety to place the same record of many a 
divine message to guilty man in the hands of the heathen : 
not from any bigoted dogma that the God and Father of all 
consolation will burn his children for not knowing what they 
were never taught ; but from a perception, that the record of 
the holy words of prophets and evangelists has a natural 
tendency to awaken whatever is good in man, and so (if prop- 

* This interrogative rendering is grammatically as probable as the 
common one, and, in, sequence of thought, more so. [The common 
version of this text seems to me more correct ; the condition of repent 
ance being implied. G. B. N.} 


erly used) to help forward the moral restoration of a fallen 
nature. Thus then we believe with the Apostle, that what 
ever things were written aforetime, were written for our in 

There is, yet further, however, a distinct (but kindred) 
ieature in the Hebrew prophets, which stamps their writings 
with peculiar value. It is that dim yet undoubting anticipa 
tion of a more perfect way than any commonly known in 
their age, which was to be revealed when the Hope of Israel 
should come. In other words, it is that foreboding of One 
anointed with the Holy Spirit and with power, which may 
especially be termed the spirit of prophecy ; and in virtue of 
which we ascribe to its possessors a more than ordinarily 
large measure of (that sacred impulse, which may be de 
scribed as) inspiration. We do not indeed assert, that the 
Hebrew prophets knew precisely what manner of salvation 
they foretold ; for they often shadow it forth under such tem 
poral deliverances, as to make the literal or Jewish interpre 
tation of their predictions not altogether unreasonable. Nor, 
indeed, do they themselves make any claim to omniscience. 
The word of the Lord comes to their heart or conscience for 
a particular purpose, and they speak it ; but where their own 
faculties and usual means of information can come into play, 
they naturally exercise them. Thus their language is simple 
Hebrew, and only when they reach Babylon, Chaldaic ; the 
countries which they describe are those adjoining their own ; 
their general range of knowledge is that of their age ; in 
short, the circumscribed limits of their horizon stand out at 
every turn. Still amidst this imperfect knowledge we find 
those accents which stir the heart like the sound of a trumpet, 
foretelling with the strongest confidence the ultimate triumph 
of pure religion, the springing of a righteous Branch out of 
the stem of Jesse, and the reign of a King who should execute 
justice and mercy. New virtues, they say, shall flourish with 
this new dispensation ; the nations shall not learn war any 
more ; the sacrifice of the (human) heart shall be counted 
above that of bulls and oxen. 


Although then some circumstances in the description of 
God s First-born and Elect, by whom this change is to be 
accomplished, may primarily apply to collective Israel, [many 
others * will admit of no such application. Israel surely was 
not the child whom a virgin was to bear ; Israel did not make 
his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death ; 
Israel scarcely reconciled that strangely blended variety of 
suffering and triumph which was predicted of the Messiah.] 

But however that may be, it is indisputable that a change 
has partly come about, and is still partly proceeding ; such as 
these ancient seers foretold. There is a growing society in 
the world, which, though ever lashed by stormy waves, seems 
still founded on a rock. Its members own as their Head one 
whom they hail as Prince of peace ; an anointed one, a first 
born, and an elect, a Person, in whose mysterious unity 
they are able to combine things which might have been 
deemed incompatible : majesty and weakness, grace and awe, 
Buffering and conquering, death and immortality, frail man 
and perfect God. f In him the mystery is unveiled, the riddle 
is read aright. In his kingdom men are exalted by humility, 
triumphant by patience, immortal by death : and to this his 
city not built with hands we are now taught by the interpret 
ing revolution of events to apply what Isaiah spake of his 
ideal Sion : " Arise, shine ; for thy light is come, and the 
glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. For, behold, the dark 
ness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people : 
but the Lord shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be 
seen upon thee. And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, 
and kings to the brightness of thy rising." 

Thus, after the lapse of centuries, the world has seen the 
grand anticipations of those who worshipped Jehovah in a 
little corner of the world, fulfilled in a sense more magnificent 

* I no longer feel confident of the assertion in brackets ; but now be 
lieve that all the prophecies have primarily an application nearly con 
temporaneous. February 11, 1855. 

t This appears to me to be true only in the sense that the moral char 
acter oT the Deity is discerned in " the face of Jesus Christ." ~ G R. N. 


than they themselves expected. Perhaps indeed this gift of 
foresight is not really more excellent or desirable than such a 
keen perception of the truths Vhich concern our peace as we 
have already found in the Old Testament. Nor dare I say 
that the one has not been sometimes confounded with the 
other. Yet this gift of prediction, as distinct from predica 
tion, is so remarkable a quality as to invest the prophetical 
writings (according, at least, to the more received view of 
them) with a character almost unique, and to furnish a dis 
tinct ground for the Apostle s holding, that " whatever 
things were written aforetime were written for our instruc 

But if for his instruction, brethren, who had seen the Lord 
Jesus, much more for that of those whose lot is cast in later 
days. We, too, like St. Paul, may have our hearts warmed 
by whatever is glowing and excellent in the older writers ; 
we, like him, may trace the great stream of Divine Provi 
dence, and admire the unconscious prefigurements of the great 
Teacher of the world ; we, moreover, unlike him, may gather 
corresponding instruction from his own writings also, and from 
those of his companions hi the ministry of the word. For 
though these later writings are scarcely comprised in the 
Scriptural canon to which our Saviour appealed, yet they 
come from men who had the best opportunities of informa 
tion ; who had seen the Son of God incarnate, and had been 
animated by the Holy Spirit of God descending; who also, 
in the power of what they believed, either from eyesight or 
from credible testimony, converted kingdoms, and built up 
the Church of Christ on the ruins of the gigantic power which 
they overthrew. Either the Apostles therefore understood 
Christianity, or else no one did. And now, suppose St. John 
or St. Peter were at present to reappear on earth, with what 
eager and devout curiosity should not we appeal to either of 
them in our controversies, and entreat him to clear up our 
difficulties ! Who would deny his narrative of some miracle 
of our Lord s, or dispute his opinion as to what was pure and 
undenlecl religion ? But then may we not say, that such a 


power of appeal is already in our hands ? St. John writing 
cannot be less trustworthy than St. John preaching. In 
neither case could he be termed omniscient ; in both cases 
men might carry away a wrong conception of his meaning ; 
yet surely in both we ought (as Christians) to award him and 
his fellows a respectful and candid hearing. . On this ground 
then, that the Apostles generally saw our Lord, and had the 
best means of information as to his religion, their writings 
seem to be properly added to those of the Old Testament 
which they explain. They were men, indeed, compassed 
with infirmities like ourselves, and they professed only to 
know in part, and to prophesy in part. Yet God has not 
given us any higher written authority, and the highest which 
he has given must be sufficient for our salvation. But why 
reason from theory ? Search rather their writings in prac 
tice, brethren, and you will find them sufficient for your peace. 
If indeed you disdain rational and proper helps, such as a com 
petent knowledge of the original tongues, and of the customs, 
manners, and modes of thought of the persons using them, 
you may stumble grievously in this, as in any other inquiry. 
You may then, if both unlearned and also unstable, wrest the 
Scriptures to your own destruction. But if you are content 
to start with such a key as the Church puts into your hands 
in the form of the three primitive creeds, or of the English 
prayer-book generally, you cannot go greatly wrong, even 
in speculation. And if you use the Scriptures, as they were 
intended to be used, chiefly for warning, for encouragement, 
for consolation, you will find them the Book of books, a 
shrine from whence light will stream on your path, and an 
oracle whose words will be comfort to your soul. 

For, after all difficulties which may be raised, and all dis 
tinctions which must be made, these Hebrew and Christian 
Scriptures seem likely ever to constitute the book dearest to 
the downcast and the contrite, to the bereaved, the outcast, 
and the Magdalene, to all them that are stricken or afflicted 
in mind, body, or estate. So Collins, a man of the rarest 
genius and largest endowments, solaced the lucid intervals of 


an overwrought and shattered intellect with one book, " it 
was the best" he said, and it was the Bible. So many a 
soul stricken with remorse has been lured back to the way 
of life; and so (what after all, believe me, is far better) 
many a pure spirit has been strengthened to preserve its gar 
ments of fine linen unspotted through life, and so entered 
without doubt into an inheritance undefiled. 

Lastly, from the same source, we ever may derive strength 
to resign those whom we love best into the hands of a merci 
ful Creator and Redeemer ; not fearing also ourselves, when 
God shall call us, to answer, " Even so, Lord : for so it 
seemed good in thy sight. Now therefore into thy hands we 
commend our spirits ; for thou hast redeemed us O thou 
God of Truth." 





" Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." 
2 Peter i. 21. 

So long as the religion of Christ is recommended only by 
the inherent weight of its ideas, it stands on nearly the same 
ground as the sentiments of justice or of right, if considered 
prior to their being exemplified in history, or embodied in 

Few minds, we may hope, are so brutishly depraved as 
not to acknowledge their neighbor s right to his own life, to 
the fruit of his labor, and to fair dealing in all social trans 
actions, if only the conceptions of those things are brought 
calmly and deliberately within cognizance of their thought. 
But yet the naked idea of justice is not found powerful to 
restrain men s actions with anything like the dominion which 
it is capable of acquiring when its principles have been em 
bodied in law, transgression of them forbidden by penalty, 
and instances of their operation in all the transactions of life 

* Preached before the University of Cambridge [Eng.]., on the Second 
Sunday in Advent, December, 1854. 


recorded and set forth in the history of u nation. So far, 
indeed, as the subjects of a realm are concerned, the authority 
which practically binds them is not that of the abstract senti 
ment of justice, but the positive law of the land. 

A man is not permitted to argue that his conception of 
justice gives him a social claim ; it is law which must ratify 
that claim, define its measure, and lay down the method of 
enforcing it. There is nothing in our own land so lofty, and 
not many things so minute, as not to fall within the range of 
positive and written law. But yet this law, which gives 
majesty to the sceptre, and edge to the sword, extending its 
ample shield over the lives of subject millions, and enforcing 
even for its own errors a sacredness which the wisest are the 
slowest to dispute, has behind it and underneath it a power 
greater than its own. For it is itself the creature of human 
thought ; the ever-growing and often-varying embodiment of 
the conceptions of mankind ; and although legislators, judges, 
and reformers, or even martyrs in the cause of freedom, may 
have spoken it of old, as they were moved by the providence 
and the Spirit of God, teaching them either through experi 
ence or through impulse, yet it is often marked by the imper 
fections of its time. The vessels in which the great treasure 
of the desire of justice was embodied, may have been vessels 
of earth ; and if it is to retain its hold upon advancing gen 
erations, it must purify itself ever by contact with the living 
fountains of justice ; must adapt its interpretation to new 
exigencies of social life ; and must beware lest, by supersti 
tious tenacity of the letter, any violence be done to the spirit, 
even to that sense of righteousness in man, which is ever 
being trained upward, to realize the unwritten word of God. 

Now we may very reasonably say, that to ourselves, as 
members of the Church of England, the great standard of 
theological doctrine must be that volume of Holy Scriptures 
which embodies the experience of the Church of old ; the 
record of her revelations, and the tradition of her spiritual 
life ; the transfusion, as it were, of her spirit into writing ; 
which also the Church of our own land has stamped with 


authority, by adopting it as her written law. There are many 
obvious advantages in having so easy a court of appeal : an 
authority which teaches by example as well as by precept ; a 
judge not biassed by our controversies of the day ; and a 
record extending over a sufficiently ample range of time for 
questions of all kinds to have found in it a practical solution, 
for the blessings of innocence, and for the judgments which 
wait on crime, to have been each very signally exemplified ; 
and for the often-contending (though they ought to be har 
monious) claims of king and priest and people, of power and 
weakness, of wealth and poverty, to have each had a limit 
assigned to them ; a sentence, as it were, having been 
passed upon them by that experience of generations which 
expresses the verdict of the great Ruler of the world. More 
over, it must be noticed, that Scripture will have a greater 
sacredness than law, because it deals with a subject-matter 
still more sacred ; and although the relations which the two 
bear to the thing written about may be the same, yet since 
the subjects are different, the writings will also differ. 

Yet it ought ever to be acknowledged, that this Holy Scrip 
ture, which all members of our Church so justly regard with 
veneration, has also something behind it deeper* and far 
holier still ; and if that spirit by which holy men spake of 
old is for ever a living and a present power, its later lessons 
may well transcend its earlier ; and there may reside in the 
Church a power of bringing out of her treasury things new 
as well as things old. 

If it had been the will of Almighty God, we cannot doubt 
his power to have instructed mankind by pouring before their 
gaze from the beginning all the treasures of his providence, 
and all the wonders of his grace. But it has pleased Him, 
who doeth all things well, to train up his Israel as a child, and 
to make the experience of bygone generations a landmark for 

* To deny this, is to deny Christ far more utterly than the Galatians 
did ; and for any one to call such sayings an inversion of the groundwork 
of Christianity, only shows the urgent need there is for servants of Go4 
to preach them. 


those who were to come. There was a time when as yet the 
Bible was not, and we must not think that it was necessary 
to salvation. For the Spirit of God may have then striven 
with men ; possibly even his Etemal Offspring, the not yet 
Incarnate Word, may have preached through the movements 
of conscience, and through words of warning, in the days of 
Noah. Certainly Enoch may have walked with God ; Mel- 
chisedec may, in the sanctity of a Gentile priesthood, have 
blessed Abraham ; the faith of the patriarch in One who 
was his shield and his exceeding great reward, may have 
been counted to him as righteousness ; and all these, and 
others whom no man can number, may have been gathered to 
the spirits of just men made perfect, if not before any records 
existed, at least centuries before the earliest of our sacred 
books took their present form. 

But when the patriarchs have grown into twelve tribes, 
they are become a nation, and a nation must have a history ; 
when they come out from the house of bondage, and conquer 
a new land, the Author of their deliverance, and the Giver 
of their conquest, must have his wondrous works recorded ; 
when they have law, which is to be enforced by human rulers, 
though with reference to the Divine Ruler, it must be written 
in some express form ; or, just as man, because he has the 
gift of reason, will utter speech with meaning, so the nation, 
because thoughts are stirring in its breast, must have a voice 
to speak forth the national mind ; and if the life which ani 
mates its thoughts be truly religious, the words which are 
their utterance must be sacred words. Thus, where there is a 
church, there must be a Bible or a liturgy ; where there is a 
true temple, there will be solemn psalms ; where decay or 
formalism creeps over the servants of the sanctuary, if the 
spirit of God has compassion on his people to awaken them, 
there will arise prophets, whose protest will be couched in 
accents pregnant with eternal truth ; who will say to the dry 
bones, " Live," and to the prostrate Church, " Stand upon 
thy feet." 

Thus, although man is gathered to his fathers, yet, as 


nations and churches represent, throughout fleeting genera 
tions, the everlasting providence and spirit of God, so it is 
probable they will strive to prevent their best thoughts from 
being swept into forgetfulness ; and they will, by writing, give 
a permanent shape to their record of things temporal, and 
to their perception of things divine. 

Then, again, if the destined course of the world be really 
one of providential progress, if there has been such a thing 
as a childhood of humanity, and if God has been educating 
either a nation or a church to understand their duty to him 
self and to mankind ; it must follow, that, when the fulness of 
light is come, there will be childish things to put away. Not 
(indeed) that any part will have been useless in its day ; 
perhaps a certain unalterableness of spirit may run through 
every link of the chain. -Yet, if the chain is one of living 
men, each link must have a freedom of expansion, and there 
will be a power of modifying mere circumstance very differ 
ent from the bare continuity of inanimate things. Hence, if 
the religious records represent faithfully the inner life of each 
generation, whether a people or a priesthood, they will all be, 
in St. Paul s phrase, divinely animated, or with a divine life 
running through them ; and every writing divinely animated 
will be useful ; yet they may, or rather they must, be cast in 
the mould of the generation in which they were written; 
their words, if they are true words, will express the customs 
of their country, the conceptions of their times, the feelings 
or aspirations of their writers ; and the measure of knowledge 
or of faith to which every one, in his degree, had attained. 
And the limitation, thus asserted, of their range of knowl 
edge, will be equally true, whether we suppose the short-com 
ing to be, on an idea of special Providence, from a particular 
dictation of sentiment, if. each case ; or whether, on the more 
reasonable view of a general Providence, we consider such 
things permitted rather than directed ; the natural result of a 
grand scheme, rather than a minute arrangement of thoughts 
and words for each individual man. It may be that the 
Lord writes the Bible, on the same principle as the Lord 


builds the city ; or that he teaches the Psalmist to sing, in 
the same sense as he teaches his fingers to fight ; thus that 
the composition of Scripture is attributed to the Almighty, 
just as sowing and threshing are said to be taught by him ; * 
for every part played by man comes from the Divine Dis 
poser of the scene. 

By some such process, however, as has above been sketched, 
it has pleased the Giver of all wisdom to bring about for u? 
through his providence the writing of these sacred books, 
which comprehend (1.) the literature of the Hebrew people, 
(2.) the oracles of Jehovah s priesthood, and (3.) the expe 
rience of the apostles of Christ. 

For such seems to be a division under which we may 
naturally class those many voices of the Church of God, or 
those records of the spiritual convictions of the great society 
in which the fear of the Lord has been inherited from gen 
eration to generation, the aggregate of which books we call 
the Bible. Shall we venture to glance at each of these 
divisions in turn? We claim for the oldest of our sacred 
books an antiquity of perhaps fifteen hundred years before 
the Christian era. But the external evidence for their ex 
istence can hardly be said to extend over more than half 
that period. For all the earlier half, we rely chiefly upon 
the contents of the books themselves. Nor can we even 
appreciate this kind of evidence without a certain freedom of 
investigation, which proceeds upon what HooKer assumes as 
the primary revelation of the human understanding. Yet 
from this kind of evidence we are able, for a large part of the 
earlier books, to prove an origin of very high antiquity. 
Partly, the language agrees with what the date requires ; as 
in the earlier books of the Pentateuch there are Egyptian 
words ; partly, the manners agree, whether we glance at the 
ancient castes of Egypt, as attested by her monumental 
stones, or at the wandering tents of the patriarchal tribes; 
partly, again, the general scenery is true in character ; and, 

* Isaiah xsviii. 23-29. 


still more decisively, the general tone of feeling, and the men 
tal horizon, as it were, of the writers, is exactly what we 
should expect, as in due proportion to the age in which their 
lot was cast. Only, it must he added, that all these proofs of 
genuineness are also equally proofs of a positive limitation to 
the range of knowledge. We cannot in one moment say, 
these books were written in such an age because they have 
the knowledge of that age, and in the next moment argue that 
they have a divine omniscience, and therefore were dictated, 
or, as it were, dropped from heaven ; for this would be, with 
the greatest inconsistency, to destroy our own argument and 
to introduce miracle, where we have been assuming the faith 
fulness of God s providence ; as if we said, that the rain * 
and the sunshine are a contradiction to those laws of the Au 
thor of Nature which seem intended expressly to guide them. 
Here, therefore, both for the above reasons, and for others 
to be mentioned hereafter, let me in all humility protest 
against that unwise exaggeration which makes the entire 
Bible a transcript of the Divine omniscience, or a word of 
God for all time, without due reference to the circumstances 
and to the range of knowledge of those holy men who spake 
of old. The writers, after all, are men ; and the condition of 
mankind is imperfection. They were holy men and servants 
of God ; but yet all human holiness and all human service 
is only comparative, and a thing of degree. They spake ; 
but speech is the organ of thought ; therefore there is noth 
ing in the Scripture but what was first in the mind of the 
scribe. Nihil est in Scripto, quod non prius in Scriptore. 
They spake of old; but all old times represent, as it were, 
the childhood of the human race, and therefore had childish 
things, which we must put away. The Holy Ghost was their 
teacher ; but the province of this eternal Agent in our re 
demption is not to give knowledge of earthly facts, which we 
know by the providence of the Father, nor yet to give a new 
revelation of things heavenly, which we know by the positive 

* Dr. Powell of St. John s. 


incarnation of the Son ; but the province of the Holy Ghost 
is rather to quicken our conceptions of things otherwise 
known ; to hallow our impulses, restrain our wanderings, and 
guide our steps in those paths which the Father and the Son 
have already laid down for us to walk in. 

But let no one therefore suppose that this limitation of the 
knowledge of the sacred writers should lessen the sacredness, 
or destroy to us the usefulness, of that literature which, ac 
cording to the measure of its time, the Church of God spake 
of old. We may receive the message of the servants as true 
without for a moment dreaming that the great Master had 
communicated to them all the knowledge of his eternal plan. 
We may acknowledge the history a very wonderful one, be 
cause the events which it records were first wonderful. On 
the same principle ,as the very structure of the Hebrew sen 
tence is a written echo of the chant of the temple, so that 
acknowledgment of the living God, which they whom the 
nations despise, and Christians often misrepresent, have held 
fast amidst a thousand persecutions, runs throughout their 
history as a memorial of the mighty works of Jehovah in the 
land of Ham, and by the Red Sea. 

Without here venturing upon the very debatable ground 
of where miracle begins and where providence ends, or 
without determining (what perhaps is by no means so impor 
tant as many may suppose) how much we ought strictly to 
assign to each, we may safely say, the entire history, or litera 
ture, is one which seems destined to be the handmaid of true 
religion in the world. Just as the ancient Greek manifested 
the sensitiveness of his organization and the activity of his 
mind by a literature moulded in beauty and full of specula 
tion ; and as the Roman, whose mission it was to civilize the 
world with law, spoke the firm language of history and of 
manly virtue ; so the Hebrew, having been wonderfully 
trained, laid the wisdom of the Egyptians at the feet of Je 
hovah ; he looked upon the earth and its fulness, and he said 
nloud, " It is the Lord s " ; he saw kings reigri, and he felt 
that One mightier than they had set fast their thrones ; he 


heard of his fathers migrating, and marrying, and burying 
their dead in a strange land ; and he felt that not one of these 
things was disregarded in the sight of Him who teacheth the 
wild-fowl their course through the heaven, and who uphold- 
eth also our steps in life : or he bowed in the sanctuary on 
Mount Zion ; and, as the question arose, " Who shall ascend 
into the hill of the Lord, or stand in his holy place ? " the 
Spirit of God within him made answer, " He that hath clean 
hands and a pure heart ; that hath not spoken the name ol 
Jehovah over falsehood, nor sworn to deceive his neighbor." 

Thus, in short, the spirit which runs through the literature 
of the Hebrews is eminently a religious spirit ; in their his 
tory, and in their proverbs, and in the common stories of the 
people, though these may have been moulded somewhat in 
Oriental form, there is a true reference of all things to the 
will of a righteous Lord. 

But, still more emphatically, the same character applies to 
the direct utterances of the great teachers of righteousness ; 
to the oracular songs of the Temple, and to the kindling ac 
cents in which the prophets woke the conscience of their 
compatriots, as they denounced the fierce anger of a Judge 
long provoked by incurable sin. There priest and prophet 
go harmoniously hand in hand ; so that the attempts of the 
assailants of church polity to sever their functions are but 
vain. It is the province of the priest, not only to teach the 
difference between the holy and the profane, but also that his 
lips should keep knowledge ; and again, however earnestly 
the prophet may cry aloud for reformation of heart, he yet 
never ceases to maintain the sacredness of whatever has 
had spoken over it the holy name of the Most High. 

Only we cannot judge either one or the other truly, unless 
we regard them in the closest connection with the history of 
the people among whom they are written. For they are not 
so much a word of God, externally dropping from heaven, as 
a true confession to God, responding from the heart of man. 
Both the deep sighing of passionate devotion, and the fervent 
trust in a deliverer out of national bondage, would lose half 


their value, unless we believed that they came from men who 
prayed earnestly for themselves ; who had tasted the rod of 
the oppressor ; and who were concerned about the realities 
of their own mind and their own time. But why should not 
their devout sayings, and all the heroic deeds of trust, or love, 
or magnanimity, serve to the same end in religion, as the his 
tory of kingdoms in politics, and the strains of poetry in edu 
cation, without our presuming to assign to the writers an in 
fallibility which they never claim for themselves ? We may 
read Moses, not for his physical geography, but for his ten 
commandments and his history. We may read the book of 
Joshua, not for its astronomy, but for a tremendous example 
of the law by which God sweeps corrupt nations from the 
earth ; we may find in Kings and Chronicles, not imaginary 
and faultless men, but subjects of Divine providence, instances 
of Divine teaching, and all that blending of interest with in 
struction, which the history of a devout people, told with 
reference to the Judge of the whole earth, is ever calculated 
to afford. We may also fully admit the unalterableness of 
Scripture, in the sense that deeds truly done cannot be un 
done, and fixed principles cannot be changed ; nor would it 
be modest, to weigh the personal authority of even the most 
spiritual teacher now, against that of the Apostles who fol 
lowed Christ ; but yet we need not suppose that the arm of 
the Eternal is shortened, or that his Holy Spirit ever ceases 
to animate the devout heart. Above all, let no man blunt the 
edge of his conscience, by praising such things as the craft 
of Jacob, ,or the blood-stained treachery of Jael ; nor let the 
natural metaphor, by which men call a sacred record "the 
word of God," ever blind us to the fact, that no text has 
been found, from Genesis to Revelations, in which this holy 
name is made a synonyme for the entire volume of Scripture ; 
but rather, the spirit is often, especially in the New Testa 
ment, put in opposition to the letter, and the living word, as 
frr instance it was spoken by the Apostles, is constantly dis 
tinguished from the written tradition of the days of old. 
Most commonly in the New Testament, the phrase word of 


God means the gospel of Christ, or the glad tidings of the 
Messiah being come. It should also be noticed, that, while 
the discoveries of modern travellers do so far confirm the 
books of the Old Testament, as to show their historical char 
acter, they give no countenance to any exaggerated theory of 
omniscience, or dictation, but rather contravene any dream 
of the kind. When men quote discoveries as confirmations 
of the Bible, they should consider in what sense and how far 
it is confirmed by them. 

And now, if we pass on to the experience of the apostles 
of Christ, we shall find ample means for enabling us to fix 
its true value upon the record of Holy Scripture. However 
true it may be, that we know less of the individual writers, 
and of the precise dates of the three earlier Gospels, than 
our fathers took rather for granted, yet it is certain that they 
express the belief and the preaching of the Church in the 
first century of the Christian era. Thus, instead of three 
men, we may rather appeal to the united testimony of the 
hundred and twenty persons who constituted the infant 
Church before the day of Pentecost. 

And although some few books, such as the Epistle from 
which our text is taken, have their authorship reasonably 
called in question, yet modern criticism does, on grounds of 
internal evidence, agree very closely with that belief as to the 
genuineness of the Apostolic writings in general, which the 
primitive Church adopted, from traditions of her own. (This, 
by the way, is an instance in which our modern freedom of 
investigation has added a fresh argument to our evidence.) 

In these books, then, we find traces of a new spirit in the 
world. We have the thoughts of those who walked with 
Christ, and heard the gracious words which he spake. We 
have the simple fervor of one apostle ; the despondent diffi 
dence of arfother ; the angelic loveliness and the love of a 
third ; and, above all, we have the Judaic learning, the awak 
ened mind, the passionate zeal, the practical energy, and the 
combining wisdom of St. Paul. The Epistles of this one 
writer will alone prove that, whenever our Gospels may have 


been, perhaps, moulded out of the familiar converse of the 
Apostles into their present form, the belief in our Lord s 
resurrection from the grave was at least current long before 
the destruction of Jerusalem. 

Now, all these writers of the New Testament appear partly 
as antagonists of the Old, and partly as witnesses who confirm 
it. Partly they are antagonists, for even the doctrines of 
Christ find fault with much that had been spoken of old. He 
appeals from the law of Moses about marriage to the purer 
instinct of the heart, as that which had been from the begin 
ning ; he refuses to confirm the law of retaliation ; and both 
he and his apostles, but especially St. Paul, turn men s 
thoughts from the tradition of the wisdom of old time, which 
was principally enshrined in the Bible, to that life of the soul 
which comes of the Holy Ghost, and to the ever-expanding 
law which is both written hi the heart, and which accumulates 
enactment from experience. For St. Paul s "tradition" con 
tains his Hebrew descent, and his circumcision on the eighth 
day, with many other things which had been purely scrip 
tural. They had all been written in the volume of the Book, 
and yet he repudiates them all. 

Whereas, on the other hand, the Scribes and Pharisees call 
the followers of Jesus accursed for not knowing the law ; by 
which they mean the Scripture. They even pride themselves 
on searching the Scriptures, for they thought that therein 
they had eternal life. Yet our Lord does not hesitate to 
blame them, as searching the Scriptures in vain. 

So again, St. Paul calls the Galatians foolish for desiring 
to be under the law, under which term he includes the book 
of Genesis. He is quite in accord with Jeremiah, who had 
prophesied a time under Christianity when the word of God 
should be written, not in book or stone, but on the fleshly 
tables of the heart, or in the conscience of reasonable beings. 
Yet, it is true, the same Apostle thinks that the Divine 
Teacher of mankind had never ceased to warn his Church 
of old ; and that by the great principle of trust in an unseen 
but all-righteous Guide, he had led its members from the 


beginning ; and hence all the utterances of that Church, or 
the traditions of the Old Testament, are divinely animated ; 
they are written for our instruction ; for who would not listen 
to the lessons of a great history of thought, or would spurn the 
inheritance of his ghostly fathers ? And thus their tendency is 
to make the servant of God wise, putting him, through the 
medium of an enlightened understanding, on the track as it 
were of Christian salvation. 

Again, while the writings of the apostles of Christ repre 
sent chiefly the principle of the living spirit, they are them 
selves the utterance of the Church, or of that society which is 
the habitation of the ever-present Spirit of God ; and, when 
duly preserved, they are capable of being themselves handed 
down as an inheritance or a tradition ; yet, as being a tradition 
of a spiritual age, they may become witnesses, either for sober 
history against vague mysticism, or for the lively inspiration 
of the heart against the more lifeless tradition of a grosser 
and more formalized age. 

What blessed lessons, then, may we not derive, if we are 
wise, from those holy books ? What evidences do they not 
afford of our faith ! They do not merely record, so much as 
absolutely talk of the inspired lives of the men who indited 
them. What warning do they not utter, as with a trumpet s 
sound, when we, forgetful of the Rock from whence we are 
hewn, become negligent in the work of the Lord ! What 
comfort do they not breathe, in all our sorest distress, in 
our perplexity of mind, in our pain of body, and in our lowli 
ness of estate ! By cherishing their words we assimilate our 
thoughts to the minds of apostles, and saints, and martyrs ; 
casting, as it were, our earth-bound affections over again in a 
holier mould, and so drinking of the deep fountains which 
have their source in the well of life beneath the throne of the 
majesty of God our Saviour. 

Let no man be ashamed, if the page on which such words 
are written is often wet with his tears ; or if their fashion, 
though hi many things it be temporal, give shape and voice 
to his deepest thoughts of things eternal. Neither intellect, 


nor humanity, nor devotion, can anywhere be better purified 
and strengthened than hi the homely page either of our fa 
miliar Prayer-book or of our Bible. There our sorrow and 
our guilty alarm will almost inevitably flee for comfort ; and 
there, if we are wise, we shall learn in time to discipline our 
youth, and to purify our joy. 

But yet, brethren, let no inconsiderate exaggeration, and 
no polemical reaction from overstrained claims cf the Church 
of Rome, induce us to mistake the spirit of the Gospel or of 
the Cross for the letter of the Bible. A man may know his 
Bible by heart, and yet turn a deaf ear to the word of God. 
He may lay stress o~n temporary accidents, such as anointing 
with oil; and may be blind to eternal principles, such as 
faith, hope, charity. He may even express the most malig 
nant passion in Scriptural phrase, as if truth were more true, 
or malice were less hateful, because the vehicle in which it is 
conveyed may be of Aramaic form. Thus some have de 
fended slavery because they truly observe that St. Paul s 
epistles do defend it, and even condemn attempts to abolish it 
as the work of men " proud, knowing nothing." * Yet it is 
evident, that God had destined slavery to flee away in time 
before the principles with which the Gospel is pregnant. 
Thus our religion is one thing, and the books which record it 
are another. Some, again, have laid unreasonable stress upon 
the accidental opposition of Christianity to the governments 
and religions of the corrupt generation in which it was first 
founded ; and hence many irrational arguments against kings 
and priests ; yet it is evident that the sacredness of the office 
of governor, and of teacher, and of rightful minister in the 
sanctuary, must last as long as this world endures. How 
many, again, with most unfair sophistry, distort various texts 
of Scripture in order to force them unnaturally into a har 
mony which they suppose needful ; whereas the very idea of 
a divine teaching, which lies at the bottom of the Bible, im 
plies also the idea of progress, and makes it natural for the 

* 1 Tim. vi. 2-4. 


newer sentences to differ from the old. So, again, every new 
science has to run the gauntlet of opposition, until, after forcing 
its way through bitter searchings of heart, it is at last pre 
tended to be in harmony with those texts which were once 
(more truly, but yet quite irrelevantly) alleged to oppose it. 
Time would fail me to tell of Puritan perverseness, of fanati 
cism passing into tyranny, of science persecuted, reason in 
sulted, morality depraved, and the Gospel of Christ congealed, 
mutilated, and clipped, as it were, of its wings, because men 
have assumed what the Bible does not assume, that inspira 
tion means omniscience, or that the All-gracious Father, who 
taught men of old, has his unsleeping eye blinded or his arm 
shortened, so that he can teach us now no more. But per 
haps no single study has suffered so much from this cause 
as the interpretation of the Bible itself. It may, however, 
be suggested, whether devotion also has not suffered some 
what. For although the Psalms and other sacred writings 
are a treasury of expressions which harmonize admirably 
with the deepest breathings of our hearts ; yet, when men 
compile prayers from these with servile imitation, as school 
boys take verses from the poets, the spirit of devotion is apt 
to be exorcised. And this is one reason why modern prayers 
are so inferior to the ancient liturgies ; for so long as the 
Church of old believed in the real presence of the Holy 
Ghost, she waxed mighty in prayer as she grew rich in ex 
perience ; then the storehouse of her liturgies became heaped 
with things old, and yet her heart ever indited good matters 
that were new ; and from those fountains the stream of prayer 
has flowed into all lands, until, at last, our bishops and pas 
tors, as if they despaired of the promise of Christ, would 
take no weapon in hand that had not been hammered on the 
Jewish anvil. And so, many of our modern prayers have 
become a lifeless patchwork of texts ; * a disquisition to the 

* Compare Jeremy Taylor, Preface to Golden Grove. "Would that 
those who in our own time have right manfully endeavored to heal the 
disease of unreality in our devotional compilations, did not too often 


people, instead of a crying to God ;* and, as there is little 
affection in them which might even savor of the spirit, so 
there is often something which offends the understanding 
We have fallen, in this respect, far below the level which 
the genius and the piety of Hooker had attained three cen 
turies ago. That illustrious champion, both of the purity of 
the Gospel of Christ and of the freedom of the human mind, 
shows clearly, in the second book of his immortal work, how 
Scripture may become " a misery" and " a torment" and " a 
snare " ; and his counsel is most truly judicious, that we 
should beware, lest, by claiming for Holy Scripture more 
than we ought, we provoke men to deny it its due ; lest, in 
fact, we pervert the Bible itself, and either destroy the 
spirituality of our faith, or give occasion to many perverse 
delusions; or, again, provoke till we almost justify a most 
dangerous reaction into scoffing infidelity. 

But if such was Hooker s counsel in his own time, how 
much greater need is there that some one, either in his spirit, 
or in that of the incomparable Jeremy Taylor, should speak 
words of even bolder counsel now ! For it hath pleased the 
Giver of our thoughts, and the Disposer of our lot, to enlarge 
on all sides the boundaries of human knowledge. There is 
no science of the heavens above, or of the earth beneath, or 
of the waters under the earth, which has not revealed mys 
teries of its own ; or which does not refuse to be limited by 
the brief range of the Hebrews, who in all such things were 
learners rather than teachers. Again, our more extended 
familiarity with other literatures daily shows us that aspira 
tions congenial to those of the Hebrews had been taught 
elsewhere by the God of the spirits of all flesh. But, above 
all, the critical interpretation of the sacred volume itself is a 

bring their own remedies from the dregs of the Middle Ages : and often, 
by assembling merely the dolorous portions out of Scripture, make work 
in feminine and sensitive natures for physicians of the body, (I speak 
from sad observation,) rather than do the work of the Physician of souls. 
But the true kingdom of God brings penre and joy in believing, with 
childlike confidence. 


study for which our generation is, by various acquirements, 
eminently qualified. Hence we have learnt that neither the 
citations usually made in our theological systems, nor even 
those adduced from the Old Testament in the New, are any 
certain guide to the sense of the original text. The entire 
question of prophecy requires to be opened again from its 
very foundation. Hence, to the student who is compelled to 
dwell on such things, comes often the distress of glaring con 
tradictions ; and with some the intellect is clouded, while the 
faith of others has waxed cold. If the secret religious his 
tory of the last twenty years could be written, (even setting 
aside every instance of apostasy through waywardness of 
mind, or through sensuality of life,) there would remain a 
page over which angels might weep. So long, indeed, as 
such difficulties are thought absolutely to militate against 
Christianity, the strong necessity which the best men feel for 
Christian sentiment will induce them to keep the whole sub 
ject in abeyance. Yet surely the time must come when God 
will mercifully bring our spirit into harmony with our under 
standing. Perhaps a greatness and a place not far from the 
Apostles in the kingdom of heaven may be reserved for 
some one, who, in true holiness and humility of heart, shall 
be privileged to accomplish this work. We can almost sym 
pathize with that romantic though erroneous faith, which has 
made some men attempt to roll back the stream of human 
knowledge, and to take refuge from doubts in a dream of 
living infallibility. But all such attempts must fail ; for the 
God of truth will make them fail. He who dwells in light 
eternal does not promote his kingdom by darkness ; and He 
whose name is Faithful and True is not served by falsehood. 
If knowledge has wounded us, the same spear must heal our 

Nor can I close without humbly asking the grave, the 
reverend, and the learned, whether all this subject does not 
call for greater seriousness, tenderness, and frankness. Who 
would not be serious on observing how many men s hope of 
heaven is bound up with belief in the infallibility of a book, 


which, every day convinces us, expresses, as regards things of 
earth, the thoughts of fallible men ? Or who would not pity 
rather than blame, when the very inquiries in which the love 
of God and zeal for his honor first engaged us seem to intro 
duce (according to popular theories) the most distressing con 
tradictions ? Or who is so blind as to think the cause of 
eternal truth should be defended by sophistries, of which a 
special pleader would be ashamed ? One would make large 
allowance for the conscientious anxiety of those eminent per 
sons, whose position makes them responsible as bulwarks of 
the faith; and who are ever dreading the consequences to 
which the first outlet of the waters of freedom may tend. 
But may God in his mercy teach them, that nothing can be 
so dangerous as to build on a false foundation. The ques 
tion, how far we would go, will best be answered by ex 
perience. Only it never will be safe to stop short of the 

But, in fact, almost everything doubtful, or, at least, every 
thing transparently erroneous, in our sacred books, might be 
surrendered to-morrow with little or rather no detriment to 
the essentials of the Christian faith. It is strangely unreason 
able for men to argue that they cannot believe God ought to 
be worshipped in spirit and in truth, unless they are also con 
vinced that Cyrenius was president of Syria, or that the 
Cretans were always liars. Nor ought any one to doubt 
whether God made sea and land, because it may fairly be 
questioned how far the poetry in Joshua about the sun stand 
ing still (or the allegory in Jonah about the whale) ought to 
be interpreted literally. 

Almost all difficulties which are fairly raised belong to 
those things of earth, about which well-meaning Martha was 
unnecessarily cumbered; while the life and the power and 
the salvation are the inalienable inheritance of Mary, while 
she sits in calmness at the feet of the Saviour. 

Let not then exaggerations, or polemical inferences, frighten 
us in vain. We may grant to the llomankt, as well as to 
many Anglicans, that the Church was before the Bible, as a 


speaker is before his voice ; and that Holy Scripture is not 
the foundation of the Christian faith so much as its creature, 
its expression, and its embodiment. But it will not therefore 
follow that this Holy Scripture should be sealed in dead 
languages, or withheld from men thirsting for the words of 
life. Nor ought any modern mystic to persuade us that the 
history of the Divine dealings of old is ever useless to the 
human mind ; and yet we may concede that the two things 
from which Scripture sprang are for ever in the world, 
I mean the conscience of man, and the Holy Spirit of God. 
From these two, meeting in the Church, the Bible derives its 
origin, its authority, and its power to persuade. 

I exhort, therefore, every soul who hears me to value 
highly the Bible ; to read it, pray over it, understand it. 
But yet beware of lying for God , or of ascribing infallibility 
to men of like passions with ourselves ; or of sacrificing the 
spirit which enlivens to the letter which deadens. 

So may you deserve the praise of those ancient Berreans, 
who are ever honored because they were more ingenuous 
(fvytvcarfpoi), or because their minds were candid in receiv 
ing the truth. So too will you be, not infidels, but believers 
in Holy Writ, when it tells you that its authors knew only in 
part, and prophesied only in part ; so will you avoid attrib 
uting blasphemy to them, by calling the word of God that 
which they profess to speak as men ; and even to speak as 
fools ; so will you not make them, as writers, more than they 
were as speakers ; nor will you sever, as they did not sever, 
their inspiration from that of the congregation at large, when 
they exclaim, "I think that I too" (So*< Se *ayo>), that is, "I, 
as well as others, have the Spirit of God." But above all, 
so will you be blessed, as servants of that living God who is 
never weary of creating, and whose promise is that he will 
dwell among us ; and so too disciples of Jesus, who prayed, 
not for his Apostles only, but for all who should believe 
through their word ; whose most precious testament was, not, 
I give you the Bible, but, " I send you the Comforter, even 
the Spirit of truth " ; and whose binding promise is, not, I 


am with the first generation of Christians, and possibly with 
the second, but, "Lo, I AM WITH YOU ALWAY, EVEN TO 


* Abundant proofs of the non-Petrine origin of the Epistle called St. 
Peter s Second, are given in the second edition of Bunsen s Hippolytus, 
from whence, however, I did not learn it. Even Eusebius had said, " Of 
the writings named as Peter s, I know only one Epistle genuine." Hist. 
Eccl. III. 3. The internal character of the Epistle corresponds with this 
external disavowal. But if any one asks me, Why then take your text 
from it 1 such a questioner, I presume, thinks that a sentiment cannot be 
true, or worthy of commentary, unless it be a particular Apostle s ; that 
is to say, he thinks things are true because they are written, instead of 
being written because they are true ; or again, he thinks that the Church 
has not authority sufficient to persuade even her own ministers what 
books they shall lecture upon. But to no one of these propositions am 
I able to assent ; nor again do I feel any difficulty in adopting the senti 
ment of my text, whoever may have written it. 

Having said positively that nowhere in Holy Scripture is the term 
" word of God " made an equivalent or synonyme for the Bible, I may 
refer to the Sermon on the Kingdom of God for an explanation of some 
texts usually misapplied. I did not make up my own mind on this spe 
cific point until after a consideration extending over many years. The 
two texts most favorable to the vulgar Pharisaism are perhaps St. Mark 
vii. 13 and vii. 7 ; but in the one, the thing intended is the fifth command 
ment, as we see from St. Matthew xv. 4, 9, where also we find things 
both Levitical and Scriptural condemned by our Lord (see ver. 10, 11) : 
and in the other, the antithesis is not between written and unwritten, 
but between divine will and human precept. Perhaps trapaboo-is means 
precept oftener than tradition. 

It should, however, be clear, that I know of no tradition, ecclesiastical 
or other, worthy to be named in the same day with St. Paul s Epistles ; 
and I admit Kara (rvfi/Se^^Koy the approximate coextensivencss of our 
New Testament Scriptures and of Apostolic doctrine ; only I cannot vio 
late the first principles of Christianity itself, as well as of human reason, 
by putting the letter before the spirit, or the books before the religion, as 
our popular tradition does. We are rightly taught that " all Holy Scrip 
ture is written for our instruction" Whenever, therefore, it is used to stunt 
our knowledge, or fetter our spirits, it must be misapplied ; as we read 
that it was by the great Tempter. 




" After the way which (they) call heresy, so worship I the God of rny 
fathers." Acts xxiv. 14. 

THERE certainly was a time when to be a member of the 
Society of Friends implied something greater than more or 
less harmless peculiarities ; for they bore witness before 
princes and people, in bonds and persecution, for the great 
principle of the spirit of the living God, and were not 
ashamed. If then one of them had been asked, Do you not 
worship the God of battles ? he might possibly have answered, 
No ; and again, if he were told that the Almighty is called 
in the Old Testament the Lord of hosts, it is conceivable 
that he might have rejoined, But we have better oracles. 
Immediately upon this might have been raised a cry, This 
man is an infidel, for he denies the Scriptures ; or rather an 
atheist, for he disowns the Lord of hosts. Yet the Quaker 
again might plead, that he had learnt to know God, not so 
much by might, or by power, as by the spirit wherewith he 
has taught us to call him, " Our Father which is in heaven." 

* Preached before the Vice-Chancellor and University jf Cambridge 
, in King s College Chapel, on March 25, 1855. 


He might go on to affirm, that, in thus recognizing the eternal 
I AM under his more blessed character as the Prince of 
Peace, he did not for a moment deny the same Lord to have 
been known as Almighty by the patriarchs, and as Eternal by 
the Jews ; but still, that the sundry times and divers man 
ners of ancient revealing had somewhat melted in the bright 
ness of the revelation of that Spirit, which cometh forth from 
the Father and the Son. Thus, that many things " said of 
old time," * in the rigor of the letter, must now be interpreted, 
or rather expanded, in the freedom of life ; and so, after a 
manner which, even if it were called heresy, was yet the 
manner of Christ and his apostles, he worshipped the God of 
his fathers. 

Nor would such an answer be unlike in spirit to those 
which the great Apostle of the Gentiles often urges in vam 
upon the attention of his irritated countrymen. For it is not 
only at Athens that he is called an introducer of new divini 
ties ; but at Jerusalem he is denounced as one who taught 
apostasy from the sacred place, and the Book of the Law, 
and the worship of the God of the Hebrews.f Difficult as it 
may be, with our scanty information, to reconcile some parts 
of his conduct such as the " being at charges " in partici 
pation of sacrifice in the temple with his argument in the 
Epistle to the Galatians, we are yet able to observe a 
wonderful blending of courage with delicacy in his manage 
ment of the many intricate questions which are proposed to 
him. He does not think that the Father of the spirits of 
all flesh was a God of the Jew only, and not also of the 
Gentile, yet he concedes there may have been great advan 
tage in those opportunities of enlightenment, and in that 
faithfulness of the Divine promises, which belonged to the 

* Compare the running antithesis, St. Matt. v. 21 27, 31, 43, with 
Jer. xxxi. 31, 32 ; Heb. viii. 8- 10 ; 2 Cor. iii. 4-14; 1 Cor. ii. 7 ; iii. 
1 , 1 John ii. 20 - 27. 

f The common charge against the early Christians was, with Jews, 
infidelity; with Gentiles, atheism. The word heresy had not yet ac 
quired its technical sense. 


chosen people of old. So he admits even the Law of Moses 
to have been in its idea holy and pure, yet he contends that 
this sanctity was not from the fact of its being imposed with 
penalties at the Exodus, but from its participation in those 
older and holier principles of which Abraham had the promise, 
and even the Gentiles a scripture in their heart. The Law, 
then, so far as it is Mosaic, and penal, or even outwardly 
preceptive, can never be the highest guide of those who have 
the mind of Christ, yet its ancient records may still be 
useful ; and not only would he quote them largely, in address 
ing Jews who " desired to be under them," as he quotes even 
Gentile prophets in addressing Athenians, but his own mind 
was evidently imbued with reverential affection towards those 
songs of Zion which (as the liturgy of his race) he must often 
have sung in solemn services, and to those deeply searching 
prophets whose fervent spirit, ever penetrating from the form 
of godliness to its power, was so often a type of his own. 

Again, the Apostle does not seem able to contend, that the 
entire scheme of Christianity is legible in the Old Testament 
with that perfect clearness which some modern interpreters 
would compel us to acknowledge ; and our favorite citations 
of prophecy find in him little place ; but yet he thinks there 
was always a unity in the Divine dealings ; the predestination 
of the Gospel may have been veiled, but yet it must have 
been predestined * as a scheme for calling men to repentance 
from all eternity ; and though this veiled design had lurked 
under the choice of temporal Israel, and under the offering of 
slain beasts, and the form of written precepts, yet its mean 
ing (mystery) would be revealed in the uncovering to all men 
of the face of the Father, in the lively sacrifices of men 
saying by the spirit of Christ, Lo, I come to do thy will,"f 
and in the purified vision of consciences quickened by a 
faith which should draw life from love, and thereby be the 
fulfilment of the highest law. 

* First chapter of Ephesians. 
t Compare Psalm xl. 8 and Hebrews x. 7 -9. 


Thus is St. Paul a servant, faithful to Christ, and yet wise 
in the wisdom of Moses ; bringing out of his treasury things 
new, without dissociating them rudely from things old. 

Now we cannot say that any change so great as that 
heralded by the first preachers of Christ is to be expected in 
our own time. For certainly the words of Christ, in their 
highest meaning, do not pass away. May there not, however, 
be something sufficiently analogous for the great Apostle s 
example in this, as in other respects, to have been written for 
our instruction, though upon us the last dispensation is come? 
Even in the same generation, there are many persons who 
may claim alike the designation of Christians, yet whose con 
ceptions of the Gospel differ so widely, that no one of them 
could adopt the views of any other one without a change of 
mind so sweeping as to be painful. Even in our own lives, 
if we have made it our business to study religion, either as a 
matter of thought or of practice, we cannot but be conscious 
of passing through certain changes of apprehension. When 
we are children, we think as children ; and when we are men, 
we put away childish things. But, much more, in a succes 
sion of generations, very great differences may be expected to 
prevail in the mode of holding a truth essentially the same.* 
The Christianity of the early Fathers of the Church is hardly 
that of St. Augustine ; still less is it that of St. Anselm, t or 
of Calvin. The great object of our faith remains the same 
yesterday, to-day, and for ever ; but those reflections from his 
thoughts, which are thrown figuratively j on the mirror of our 
understanding, may be darker or more distinct, from day to 
day. Perhaps even the very truth which saves the soul, 

* See some admirable remarks on this, needed now more than when 
they were written, in Professor Key s Norrisian Lectures, editc 
Bishops Kaye and Turton. 

t A sufficient notion of St. Anselm may be got from some rece 
Bampton Lectures by Mr. Thompson; but the accomplished aut 
seems to be hardly aware how much more profound what the latheri 
meant was than the supposed improvement of St. Anselm, 

| cv aii/iy/icm. 1 Cor. xiii. 12. 


whether it be called faith, or love, or Christ, or the Holy 
Ghost, may be held with more or less clearness. Or, if this 
be thought necessarily simple and uniform, still there is a 
^oint, which may be difficult to define, but there is a point, 
at which the truth of things eternal comes in contact with our 
experience of things temporal, and there the knowledge, the 
manners, the favorite studies, of every generation of Christians 
may indefinitely vary, and give a bias in proportion to their 
mode of conceiving of some of the associations of their faith. 

Thus, in our own time, our wider acquaintance with both 
nations and languages, our habit of scrutinizing ancient rec 
ords and comparing different faiths together, as well as the 
cultivation of those mental inquiries which approach, if they 
do not touch, upon religion, have all tended to awaken a spirit 
which some condemn, and others welcome, but which most 
observers will admit to exist. Even if discoveries which 
must affect the general shape of our conceptions as regards 
Divine Revelation are not now made for the first time, yet a 
knowledge of such discoveries, confined perhaps once to a 
few scholars, is now diffused amongst masses of men ; and the 
real significance, or the import, with which some character 
istics of our sacred literature are pregnant, is far more clear 
ly discerned, from the opportunities which we enjoy for com 
paring such things with similar phenomena elsewhere. There 
is a leaven which may have been in the world before, but 
which is now fermenting through the three measures of meal. 
Hence arises the question, how a growing spirit of scepticism 
in some quarters, and of perplexity in others, ought to be met 
by those who are responsible both to God and man for the 
stability or the progress of religion in the world. And if it 
be now, as ever, the abiding sentence of the Almighty, that 
whoso rejects knowledge shall be rejected from being priest 
before him, a few suggestions on this subject may well claim 
your attention, brethren, in these walls, which were conse 
crated to be a nursery of the faith of Christ, and upon this 
our solemn Feast-day. 

There are some persons who look on all the tendencies 


above alluded to with undisguised alarm ; and others who do 
so with hope, or at least with perfect tranquillity of faith. 
Does not this difference of view imply, that there are also two 
sets of persons, one laying exclusive stress upon the evidences 
of the body, the other regarding rather those of the mind ? It 
is obvious to remark, that these two aspects ought to be com 
bined rather than separated ; but we find that a tendency in 
either one direction or the other is apt to preponderate so 
much as to give a practical impress to a man s character, and 
to the cast of his belief. 

The first set consider man as a mere animal, and divorce 
him by nature from God and from immortality. They may 
do this, either from a materializing philosophy of the senses, 
or from an ultra- Augustinian emphasis on the fall of Adam ; 
but in either case, they leave as wide a gulf between God and 
mankind, as that which Mahomet was unable to fill. As to 
any pure voice of conscience, or better aspiration of the heart 
leading us upward, they almost boast of considering all such 
things utterly untrustworthy; they cast a disdainful glance 
over the great history of the Gentile world, and find in it no 
traces of the finger of the God of the spirits of all flesh ; and 
if they are asked, How then does God teach man ? they 
answer, By Moses on Mount Sinai, and by our blessed Lord 
in Jerusalem ; and these two revelations are so attested by 
miracles, that we cannot doubt their truth, while on account 
also of the same miracles we have our attention imperiously 
arrested by the Book which records them ; and are then led 
to regard that Book as not only true, but exhaustive of truth, 
and unquestionably the very word of God. Thus only, as 
they conceive, can we arrive at the satisfaction of certainty ; 
for as to any agreement of the contents of the Book with our 
moral and intellectual being, that is at best a secondary and 
an untrustworthy kind of evidence ; our great foundation is 
miracle, and our only result is the Bible. 

On the other hand, our second set of thinkers look upon 
mankind as something different from the beasts that perish. 
They regard him rather as the child of God ; fallen indeed, 


or falling ever, below that which his Maker calls good, and 
his own earnest expectation groans for ; yet still trained by 
Providence; appealed to, however indiscernibly, even from 
childhood upwards, by something of spiritual experience; 
and, from the mould in which he was formed, not destined to 
find rest or happiness apart from that Being whose image he 
bears. Nor is this, as they contend, a fanciful conception, 
but one to which all history bears witness, the greatest men, 
and the noblest nations, and the most enduring virtues, having 
been everywhere sustained by some vestige of such a belief; 
nor ought it to be allowed, according to all human analogies, 
that the admixture of various errors is any argument against 
a truth, which may yet survive, as the redeeming principle, 
among them. So that just as Christianity had the Law as its 
schoolmaster among the Jews, it may also have had a prep 
aration of men s minds by training for it, from the great 
teachers of righteousness in Hellas, and from the masters of 
polity at Rome. And just as these to the ancient Gentile, so 
our conscience with all our experience of history may be to 
us now, what Moses and the Prophets were to the Jews, hi 
respect of the great Teacher and Saviour to come. 

Here then is a tone of thought very different from the one 
first described. If we attempt to illustrate the two from 
ancient heresies, we might say the first has an Ebionite ten 
dency ; the second is in danger of some form of Gnostic 
error. Or, if we consider them both as interpreting things 
connected with Scripture, the one would say, that the phy 
lacteries of the Jews, with texts, were worn in obedience to 
express revelation; the other would see in them a strong 
figure * of exhortation corrupted into a formal usage. So by 
Urim and Thummim, one would understand, that a light, 
grossly physical, and yet supernatural, falling on the high- 
priest s breastplate, made its stones oracular ; while the other 

* Compare Exodus xiii. 9-16 with Numbers xv. 38, 39. Does the 
greater literalness of the later book (considering also the signs of com 
pilation in its twenty-first chapter) betray an interval of some genera* 
tions ? 


would imagine rather a symbol of that light which God gives 
to his upright ones in the clearness of understanding. Per 
haps, again, the Shechinah of the temple (or even of the 
tabernacle) might admit of a similar variety of interpreta 

Again, if we ask the followers of the two tendencies we 
are describing for their watchwords, one will reply, the in 
fallibility of the Bible ; but the other will say, the truth of 
Christ. So, the one would define Christianity as the religion 
contained in the Bible ; whereas the other would call it the 
Gospel, as being good news ; or the doctrine of the Cross, as 
being self-sacrifice ; or, in short, the religion of Christ. The 
one, then, pays its principal allegiance to the Scripture, which 
is true ; but the other to the Truth, which is also written. 
Again, the one finds a duty, and even takes a pleasure, hi 
opposing the Bible, by means of the sharpest conceivable 
contrasts to all the whispers of natural equity, to the purest 
yearnings of our affections, and to the presentiments of our 
conscience ; whereas the other never hesitates to say, that 
the Bible itself is either a providential embodiment of those 
very things, which are the witness of God in man, and can 
not be disparaged without blasphemy ; or else at least it is a 
result, for which, under the good guidance of God, they had 
been preparing the way. 

It is now easy to understand why the advocates of our 
first manner of thinking are so disquieted by anything which 
tells, I do not say against the general truth, but against the 
infallibility of the Sacred Records, which they make not only 
the symbol, but the foundation, of their faith. For they have, 
as it were, desecrated life and all its experiences ; they have 
in effect, if not in intention, removed God from it as far as 
they can ; they think all its fair humanities, whether art, or 
music, or literature, have at best little to do with religion, and 
are perhaps dangerous to it. Hence they survey their progress 
with indifference, diversified only by fits of panic ; while as 
for the deep sense of things eternal, wherewith our Maker 
encompasses us, the crying out of the heart ancj the flesh 


for the living God, the instantaneous response of t.very un- 
corrupt conscience to the sayings of our Saviou; upon the 
mount, and the calm happiness which comes of well-doing, 
they have either so materialized * their own souls that 
they are not conscious of such experiences, or else they think, 
that, apart from a particular fashion of speech, such things 
are utterly untrustworthy, and possibly may be of the Devil. 
In short, they have staked their cause upon one argument. 
It may be doubted if that is the one St. Paul would have 
recommended, or if it would have been chosen by those who 
had been longest at the foot of the Cross. " Except they 
see signs and wonders, they will not believe." When, then, 
their tendency of opinion reaches its full result, such men s 
religion becomes neither a leaven fermenting through human 
nature, nor a vine rooted and growing, nor a living and a 
moulding power ; but it is as an image fallen down once for 
all from heaven, with no analogy in nature, with no parallel 
in history, with no affinity among the Gentiles, and (except 
for some special reasons) with no echo to its fitness from the 
human heart. Hence, however, it is only natural for any 
encroachment on the solitary ground of such persons faith to 
appear " dangerous " ; and since the great recommendation 
of all their cast of sentiment was its fancied safety, they are 
in proportion alarmed. Thus it is painful to them even to be 
told of little discrepancies in our sacred books ; they cannot 
understand that a true teacher of religion may be imperfectly 
informed in other things, though analogous instances might 
strike them every day ; even the idea of religious growth, 
which pervades the whole Bible, is riot kindly accepted by 
them, or is confined to one or two great epochs of dispensa 
tion ; and as for the many inquiries of great literary and his 
torical interest, which the criticism of the Sacred Volume 
involves, they have so prejudged such questions, that they 
either will not acquire the knowledge requisite to answer 
them, or they shut their eyes to any fresh form of the answer, 

* That is, in St. Paul s language, " made carnal." 


as it appears in the light of to-day ; or they even raise an 
outcry against the investigation of any more consistent stu 
dent, as if it were a triumph of "infidelity," and thereby 
they most unwisely make it so. Certainly, their heart doe? 
not stand fast ; for they are afraid when any fresh tidings 
come, either from general knowledge, or from fervent and 
self-sacrificing devotion, or from a critical study even of the 

But turn we now to those who, reverencing the letter at 
least as deeply as St. Paul did, have yet grounded their faith 
mainly on the spirit, without neglecting the aids of the un 
derstanding. They are persuaded that they may justify the 
ways of God by rendering to the intellect its own, and yet 
render to faith the things that are faith s. Nay, rather, they 
think that doing the one is a condition necessary to the other.* 
Clearly, then, it does not disturb them to learn that the pur 
pose of God, though veiled from the Jews (/uuarqpioi/), had 
made the Gentiles, even of old, heirs of a certain salvation 
of the soul. Hence they approach with calmness such ques 
tions as how far Moses took anything from the wisdom of the 
Egyptians, or whether Hellenizing Hebrews f had used lan 
guage adopted by St. Paul and St. John ; they can even wel 
come any fresh instances that God has left himself nowhere 
without witness ; and, since both providence and grace have 
ultimately One Giver, they can easily believe that the one 
has been a cradle for the other. Perhaps, indeed, the won 
derful correspondence between the spiritual judgments of the 
Gospel and of the purest searchers after godliness elsewhere, 

* The saying, Believe, that thou mayest understand, belongs more tc 
principles than to facts, and may be as much misused as its opposite, 
Let me understand, that I may believe. For it has been applied to dark 
ness as often as to light. Hence it might be better to say, Love the truth, 
that thou mayest know it. For this would give nearly the same lesson, and 
be less liable to abuse. 

t Good Jacob Bryant wrote a book to prove that Philo resembled St. 
John ; and although his chronology requires to be inverted, his proof of 
the resemblance holds good. 


is not one of the least arguments for the true divinity of CLi 1st. 
For it shows that the Wisdom which took flesh in him came 
from the Supreme and Universal Teacher of mankind. Nor, 
again, do Christians, such as I now speak of, require a great 
gulf between the experiences of devout men to-day and those 
of the servants of God in the days of old. One of their great 
reasons for believing things written in Scripture is, that they 
experience the same. They are persuaded of the comfort of 
prayer, the peace of trustfulness, the joy of thanksgiving, the 
rightful rule of holiness, the necessity of repentance, and the 
wholesomeness of a discipline of conscience ; and they gladly 
welcome the forgiveness of sins. Because Go(J teaches such 
things now, they more easily believe he taught them of old. 
Nor have they any desire to doubt, that He who thus fash 
ioned the hearts of his people, may also have exhibited great 
wonders of old to their external sense. The great majority 
of them, indeed, implicitly believe the letter of every miracle 
in the Bible ; yet they would never be so illogical as to make 
these remote and often obscurely attested events the proof* 
of things being true which they know by experience, and 
which are so far more important in saving the soul alive. 
Hence many of them believe the miracles for the sake of the 
doctrines ; and this order is more truly Christian than the 
converse. Some of them, however, would remark, that the 
modern definition of a miracle is far too technical ; in the old 
Hebrew mind, everything was a great wonder which caused a 
present awe of the great Governor of the world. Thus the 
morning roll of the tide, and the stormy wind arising, were 
great wonders ; and though other things, to which the same 
name is applied, may seem more extraordinary, yet we can 
believe the Divine agency in them to have marched along the 
silent path of forethought rather than with the Cyclopean 

* This is almost too forcibly put in the striking wish of Mr. Maurice, 
that persons, resting their faith as Christians on the ten plagues of Egypt, 
might find all Egyptian experiences tend to shake it. See his Sermons 
on the Lessons from the Old Testament. 


crash of strength and force. As to our Saviour s miracles, 
indeed, they are even wrought generally with the concurrence 
of the receiver s faith ; and they are all signs of mercy, 01 
parables full of meaning ; and, again, so far as the element 
of power is brought out in them, it is rather as exemplifying 
the rule of a very present God over nature, than as " evi 
dence " * for truths which are themselves far more evident. 
Hence, whether an event should be considered as more or less 
miraculous, is always a question to be decided by the proba 
bilities of the particular passage, whether prose or poetry, 
contemporaneous or remote ; and is never to be prejudged as 
if it affected either way the foundations of our faith, f 

From such a tone of thought as regards miracles, we may 
expect those who entertain it to approach the more important 

* Has not the ambiguity of the term evidence somewhat misled our 
modern apologists ? It may have meant clearness, or visibility, as of 
Truth and Justice ; but they take it in the sense of legal testimony, and 
so entangle themselves in special pleading. 

t Suppose any one brought up to understand as literal prose Cow 
per s hymn, 

He plants his footsteps in the sea, 
And rides upon the storm, 

would it be an utter loss to him to discover that the terms were figura 
tive ? or might they still express to him a truth 1 Apply the same idea 
to many of the Psalms, such as the eighteenth, which the Hebrew title 
makes a description of David s deliverance from Saul. May it not also 
apply to other poetical parts, such as part of Habakkuk, and to such 
fragments as are expressly quoted from the book of Jasher (I do not say 
all that have been conjecturally ascribed to it), especially if some of them 
closely resemble the ode in Habakkuk ? But it will be said, here was a 
poetical intention ; and it is a wide leap to interpret plain prose on such 
principles. This distinction should have its weight. Still the fondness 
of some nations for apologue or parable, the tendency of ideas to clothe 
themselves in narrative, and the possibility of traditions, once oral or 
poetical, having subsequently taken form in prose, arc all things which 
may suggest themselves to critical readers, and should weigh for what 
they are worth in each case, and for no more. But if scholars wantonly 
exaggerate difficulties, or state them with indecency or scoffing, the case 
is different. I have never intended doing so, and have no sympathy of 
feeling with any one who does. 


subject of prophecy, without suffering their reverential pre 
possessions to take an undue form of prejudice, or any disap 
pointment of them to be a cause of overwhelming alarm. 
Suppose that what Bishop Butler said hypothetically on this 
subject should now be come actually upon us, suppose 
that things often treated as direct literal predictions of Christ 
should have been spoken primarily of some king, or prophet, 
or nation. Such a result may cause great distress, and even 
desolation of mind, to those who make theology a mere 
balance of texts, and make the peace of God, which passeth 
all understanding, depend upon the critical accuracy of illus 
trations borrowed in the New Testament from the Old. But 
no such grievous consequence follows to men who have been 
so born of the Spirit, that they believe Christ s words because 
they are spirit and truth. They are no more surprised that 
their Saviour should appear under earthly images in the Old 
Testament, than that he should be called " the carpenter s son " 
in the New. Their conception of him is not formed by bal 
ancing the imperfect utterances of childhood against those of 
the full-grown stature of the servants of God ; but it rather 
takes in the height of that great idea at which the Church 
arrived when she stood as it were by the goal ; for then she 
looked back with understanding on the race of Him who,* 
though manifested in the flesh, had been justified in the spirit, 
and who, though seen only by Apostles, had been preached to 
nations; and whom she found so believed upon, as a king, 
throughout the world in which he once had not where to lay 
his head, that she felt, surely God must have received him up 
into glory. For they all along admit the idea of training ; 
and so, the principle of life and of growth. It was natural 
for the people of Nazareth to see in Jesus only Joseph s son ; 

* 1 Timothy iii. 16, where I have ventured to paraphrase that reading 
of the Greek which seems on the whole best attested. It should be 
compared, for the sense of angels, with ch. v. ver. 21 of the same Epistle; 
and for the general sentiment, with Romans, ch. i. vv. 3, 4. On this, as 
on other questions of text, I am glad to fortify myself with the authority 
of Dr. Tregelles, 


it was natural for the old Hebrews to think of the righteous 
king, and the afflicted prophet, and the chosen people, before 
they rose to the conception of a verily Divine wisdom and 
love, uncovering itself hi substance, and pervading the con 
ceptions of all nations. 

But where, then, some one will ask, are our " evidences " ? 
It may be answered in two words, the character of Christ and 
the doctrine of Christ. Or to say the same thing in the words 
of St. Paul, we preach Christ the power of God, and Christ 
the wisdom of God. If priests embody the idea of conse 
cration, he is holy, if prophets that of knowledge or vision, 
he is the great speaker of truths which touch the heart, if 
kings imply rightful rule, he, or his spirit, is that which 
should sway our thoughts, if the poor and afflicted are the 
special care of God, was ever affliction like his ? if teachers 
do a sacred work, if martyrs throw a fire upon the earth 
which is not quenched, if the shepherd to his flock, and the 
husband to his wife, and the pastor to his people, have all 
some office of beneficence, and so something of sacred ness 
from their having been designed in the love of God ; all 
these things are, as St. Paul says, " brought to a head in 
Christ " ; he concentrates and exhibits in his life, in his doc 
trine, in his death, and in the holy spirit whereby he ever 
lives, and wherewith he animates the whole body of his 
Church, the Divine perfection of those excellences, of which 
fragments, and shadows, and images, are scattered through 
out the world elsewhere. And however true it may be, that 
our religion is in its essence attachment to Christ as a person, 
this can never mean to his name, or to his power, as if he 
were jealous or arbitrary ; but rather * to that goodness and 
that truth which he embodies, and which commend themselves 
by their excellence to the faith of the pure in heart. 

Those then come to Christ who believe in the spirit of 
Moses and of Isaiah, and who would have listened to each 
prophet of truth from time to time among the Jews, who 

* The issue raised in this sentence is vitally critical, and pregnant. 


would stand by Socrates as he drank his hemlock among the 
Greeks, and who, in short, in all times and places, would 
acknowledge the authority of whatsoever things are pure, 
whatsoever are lovely, whatsoever are of good report. Now 
this kind of free allegiance, from love, and for the excellence 
of the object s sake, is perhaps not exactly that of those who, 
starting with the Bible, or even with the Divine authority 
of our Lord, infer from thence dogmatically the excellence 
of his precepts ; but it is more like that of the Apostles, who 
saw the superhuman beauty of our Lord s truth and patience, 
and his majesty made perfect through sufferings ; and then 
reasoned * upward, Surely this was the Son of God. 

Such a mode of thought has also the advantage of starting 
more from the purer moral instincts of our nature. Yet it is 
so far from fearing reason, that it finds, in a way, confirma 
tions everywhere. It is under no temptation to wrest texts 
into conformity with systems ; or to congeal the outpourings 
of passionate penitence into materials for syllogisms ; or to 
make traditional applications of prophecy, whether due to 
the devout rhetoric of the early Church, or to the very im 
perfect criticism of St. Jerome f in his Vulgate, either parts 
of the faith, or perilous supports of it. It can readily wel 
come with hearty gratitude whatever discovery in science, or 
language, or history, may so far dissociate from the Jews 
those who may yet, like the Jews, remain children of a 
Divine promise ; nor is it with dismay, but with thanksgiving, 
that it sees many of their temporal images, time after time, 
give way to that eternal pattern which Moses saw in the 
Mount, and which the servants of God may now see more 

* The Apostles felt goodness, and inferred God. We assume God v 
and demand acknowledgment of goodness. Which of these is the more 
wholesome argument ? The answer may somewhat depend upon what 
conception of Deity we start with. 

t In Haggai ii. 7, the Hebrew says desires, or desirable things, and the 
context shows silver and gold to be intended. But St. Jerome said, 
Veniet desideratus omnibus yentibus, and we have followed in his track. 
But are those who clamorously make such things proofs of Christianity 
its friends 1 



clearly revealed to them in conscience, and experience, and 
understanding. For that which is written in the nature of 
things is shown us by God. 

But if persons thus thinking are less restrained from the 
free adoption of whatever consequences the mind may work 
out, so long as it works in righteousness, they are far more 
bound to purge their mind s eye, and to keep the whiteness of 
their soul unspotted from evil. For their faith has only 
ceased to be a congeries of human propositions, that it may 
better become a divine life. And although some of them 
may meditate with Butler, how far the mysterious grace of 
God is given us on a system, so that, if we saw the whole 
range of things, it would appear to us regular and natural, 
rather than contra-natural, yet the belief in that " Spirit 
which is holy, supreme, and life-giving," * is far more a gov 
erning principle of their lives, than can ever be the case 
with men who substitute the bonds of system for those of 
truth, and the letter for the spirit. 

Hence it will be found, all great reformers, either of life 
or institutions, have had something in them of the spirit we 
now speak of. Nor has it been quite unknown even to men 
in other respects of most opposite views : it has burst forth, 
now in that earnest preaching which rent the veil of the in 
visible world, and made men tremble or exult at the present 
realities of judgment or salvation ; and it has wrought again 
in those who reared once more the standard of the Cross as 
a thing to live by, in a luxurious and garrulous age ; it allies 
itself most eminently to the Gospel, but it can also flow 
along the channels of the Church ; its more prominent ad 
vocates in England have been men whose eccentricity some 
what marred their usefulness, but it may well harmonize 
with the affectionate soberness of that Prayer-book, which it 
should forbid us to sever, so widely as we do, from the in 
spiration of our Bible. It woke in Reginald Pecock some 
presage of the Reformation, when as yet this College was 

* Nicene Creed. 


not ; it found no obscure utterance in Hooker, when he taught 
that " the rules of right conduct are the dictates of right 
reason"; it is assumed, either tacitly or expressly, in the 
grand discourse of Jeremy Taylor; it is more formally put 
forward by Barclay, whose broad and unqualified propositions 
are yet on more than one account well worthy of being 
studied ; it moves, though in fetters, across the pages of the 
more learned Puritans, and especially of Milton ; it takes a 
form of wisdom, toleration, and faith, amidst the vast learning 
of Cudworth, and his kindred teachers of a godly humanity ; * 
it is not alien to the Evangelical Platonism of Leighton ; nor 
is it quite quenched by the arrogant temper of Warburton, 
whose learning and whose courage alike led him to acknowl 
edge some light in the Gentile world ; but with greater fond 
ness it loved to linger amid the deep reasonings of Butler, 
prevented only by his Laodicean age from bearing in him its 
full fruit ; it took a form of subtle idealism, and allied itself 
to " every virtue " in Berkeley ; it had no mean representative 
in this place, in the thoughtful candor of Professor Hey, over 
whose moderation any brief triumph of zeal in our time may 
only pave the way for a dangerous reaction ; it sounds, not 
ineloquently, but too uncertainly, from the deep struggles of 
Coleridge ; and it found a happier expounder in him whose 
recent loss we may well deplore, the Guesser at Truth, and 
the preacher of the Victory of Faith. Est et hodie, nunc 
tacendus : olim nominabitur. In our own time, indeed, those 
who entertain it at all have felt themselves urged alike on the 
negative side by the necessities of historical criticism, and on 
the positive by the deep hunger of men s spiritual affections, 
to cross over more and more from the scribe to the apostle, 
from the letter to the spirit, from the formula to the feeling 
which engendered it. 

How many questions now arise before me which time will 
not permit to handle at due length ! Will this freedom, which 
even the highest controller of our destiny is in some measure 

* E. g. John Smith, who has been praised in such opposite quarters. 


awakening among us, always know where to stop ? It will bo 
led, perhaps, by the inexorable laws of historical criticism to 
alter our modes of conceiving of some portions of Hebrew 
literature, which are comprehended in our Bible ; and even 
questions apparently barren may sometimes, to the scholar, 
be fruitful in inferences.* It may also observe so much of 
local or sensible imagery, f in describing things which eye 
hath not seen, nor ear heard, that it may almost indefinitely 
lessen the field of intellectual definition, though sparing that 
of conscientious expectation. It may, for instance, somewhat 
merge the doctrine of a resurrection in the idea of immortal 
ity ; J and it may lay not so much stress on a day of judg 
ment, as on a Divine retribution. But will it also apply St. 
Paul s idea of our Lord s laying down his mediatorial king 
dom, not to any one moment hereafter, but to that period, 
whatever it may be, in each man s life, when he has been 
brought by the Son to the Father, so that it shall be no 
longer necessary for the Son to pray for men || so enlightened, 
since the Father himself loves them, because they have con 
ceived of him according to the picture revealed of him in his 
well-beloved Son ? How far will this be a dangerous intensi 
fication of what is yet a true feeling of the economic nature 

* It is morally certain, that the books of Joshua and of Daniel arft 
each four hundred years later than the date ordinarily ascribed to each ; 
and this fact leads to inferences which it would be wise to meet practically] 
by either modifying our cycle of Old Testament lessons, or by giving 
the clergyman at his discretion a liberty of doing so. 

t If any one considers the various opinions on the state of disembodied 
souls before the day of judgment, he will find them turn on a clash of 
conflicting metaphors, or on a balance of allusions, each borrowed from 
some temporal usage. 

| As Bishop Butler evidently did, but Isaac Taylor s Physical Theory 
of a Future Life may be read on the other side. 

Read carefully 1 Corinthians xv. 24-28; but compare Pearson on 
Sitting on the Right Hand, in the Creed. It was reckoned a peculiarity 
in the profound Origen that he prayed only to the Father through the 
Son ; but, at the altar, the whole African Church, and perhaps the 
Church Catholic, did so. 

i! St. John s Gospel xvi. 25 - 27 ; Colossians i. 15. 


of the office of the Mediator ? Or will the same spirit go so 
far with any, as to think it unimportant through what imagery 
God may frame in us thoughts of things ineffable ; so that 
whether memory or fancy lend the shadow, and whether 
faith * be nourished more from fact or from thought, still the 
real crisis of our souls shall hang upon our ever holding fast that 
eternal substance of the Divine Light, the radiance of which 
is wisdom, and truth, and love, and which enlighteneth every 
man, both at its coming into the world in the flesh, and also 
long before ? This last would sound like a dangerous revival 
of Gnostic imaginations. Yet would even the wildest flight 
of such aberrations be so dangerous to the spirit of religion, 
as that secular-minded Ebionitism into which the opposite 
tendency, the mere sifting of the letter, is ever apt to drift, 
the moment it escapes from the influence of tradition ? To 
answer all such questions would require a prophet rather 
than a preacher. One thing, however, is clear, and that I 
desire to say very seriously : the spirit of inquiry is most 
likely to go hand in hand with reverence, if no other checks 
be imposed upon it than such as come of conscience and of 
truth. This also, brethren, let us be unshakably persuaded 
of, whatever other things fail, the attempt to realize in our 
selves the mind which was in Christ Jesus has never been 
found to fail any man. This, after all, seems to be what 
constitutes a Christian. 

The prospects of an attack must depend very much upon 
the conduct of the defenders. If those who have leisure, 
learning, and authority encourage persons less informed, not 
merely in entertaining as opinions, but in asserting as foun 
dations of the faith, things which scholars are ashamed to 
say, there must come a crash of things perishable, in which 
also things worth preserving may suffer shipwreck. Whereas, 
if the same persons were wise to distinguish eternal meaning 
from temporal shape, it would still prove that, though the 
Church is beaten by waves, yet she is founded on a rock. 

i ; v 

* Compare Hebrews, tenth and eleventh chapters. 




THE following Dissertation was composed about fourteen 
years ago. Upon reviewing it, I saw no reason to depart 
from the theory and sentiments it advances. The manner in 
which it is compiled requests the reader s candid and favor 
able censure. The reason which originally induced me to 
write it was my dissatisfaction with the schemes which gloomy 
and systematic divines have devised to account for our Lord s 
agony; some ascribing it to the unappeased wrath of Al 
mighty God, now hurled in all its tremendous vehemence 
upon this illustrious sufferer; others, to the temptation and 
onset ,of the Devil, into whose tyranny, during this hour of 
darkness, he was freely delivered ; and others to the whole 
accumulated weight of the sins of the whole world, which the 
wisdom and justice of God appointed that he should now sus 
tain, in order that he might experimentally feel their infinite 
demerit, and, by supporting in his own person the oppressive 
load, accomplish the proper atonement and expiation of them. 
I hope an attempt to vindicate the equity, rectitude, and good 
ness of God, and to justify the conduct of our Lord on this 

* First published in London, 1772. 


occasion, by evincing that there is nothing in this transaction 
which eclipses, or in the least diminishes the lustre of his 
divine character, will be deemed laudable, however I may 
have failed in the execution of my design. I had not seen, 
till within these few weeks, Mr. Moore s excellent pamphlet 
on this subject, which was pubh shed by Doctors Lardner and 
Fleming, and printed by Noon, 1757. It gives me great 
pleasure and satisfaction, as it is no small confirmation of this 
Essay, to find that the reflections and sentiments of this 
ingenious writer on this subject have so happily coincided 
and harmonized with my own. 


BY the adversaries of our divine religion it has often been 
suggested that the concluding scenes of our Redeemer s life 
are attended with circumstances which reflect no great honor 
upon his character. From that expression, My God! my 
God ! why hast thou forsaken me ? one of the most eminent 
of the Deists asserteth, that our Saviour, a little before his 
death, publicly renounced the cause in which he had been 
engaged, and even died in that renunciation. How injurious 
and false this aspersion is, need not be evinced, since the 
whole tenor of our Saviour s history contradicts it, and every 
where displays a most exalted and consummate virtue. It is 
in the highest degree absurd to suppose that our Lord should 
publicly abjure his religion, and yet die to confirm it and give 
it its last sanction. He came to bear witness to the truth, 
and he gave the strongest proof of the justness of his preten 
sions to the character he assumed, that he was the Messiah 
and Lawgiver of the world, and that the cause in which he 
had embarked was the cause of God and Truth, for he sealed 
this cause with his blood. 

His agony in the garden of Gethsemane has been very 
undeservedly the subject of calumny and detraction. It has 
not infrequently been intimated, that during this scene of 


sufferings our Lord s behavior was very far from being con 
sistent with the rest of his life, and that he meanly and ab 
jectly shuddered at the prospect of calamities which, notwith 
standing, it was his destiny to meet.* Persons, who have 
rejected Christianity, and alleged the causes of their rejecting 
it, have insinuated, among other things, that this agony of 
grief hath all the appearance of a dishonorable timidity, that 
our Saviour in a dispirited manner sunk under the afflictions 
which he had rashly brought upon himself, by assuming the 
character of a Reformer, whereas, if he had been conscious 
that his doctrines were true, and that his mission was divinely 
authorized, he would have sustained them with an heroic 
fortitude and magnanimity worthy such a cause. Instead of 
this, in the prospect of his last sufferings, he is overwhelmed 
in despondency, and betrays a pusillanimity unworthy a com 
mon philosopher. Instead of embracing with virtuous trans 
port so noble an occasion, now offered him, of attesting tlie 
truth of his mission and ministry by sufferings, he shrinks 
back at the view of them, falls into dishonorable tremors, is 
plunged into the last terror and confusion, and with vehement 
importunity implores Almighty God to extricate and save 
him from them. Let this cup pass from me ! 

But if we impartially consider the history in which this 
agony of distress and sorrow is recorded, we shall be con 
vinced that it was not want either of virtue or of fortitude to 
sustain his impending sufferings, which dictated these words. 
There is nothing in them inconsistent with the general tenor 
of his conduct, nothing in them that can make us suspect 
the truth of his pretensions, or that in the least diminishes 
the divine worth and dignity of his character. Our Saviour 
was clothed with human nature, and is he to be censured for 
having the sensibilities of human nature ? Is his conduct to 
be loaded with reproach and contumely, because he was not 
a proud, unfeeling Stoic,| and did not manifest an entire 

* See Voltaire s late treatise Sur la Tolerance. 

t " Was there not something pusillanimous and inconstant in this part 


apathy and insensibility in his sufferings? Is it any dis 
paragement to our blessed Lord, any imputation on his wis 
dom or his virtue, that he was affected with the sorrows and 
sufferings of humanity ? " Jesus," as a judicious writer has 
well observed, " was sensible of his own and others suffer 
ings, and conceived a dread and horror ^t them. He was so 
wre amazed and full of grief, as earnestly to pray, that, if it 
were possible, the cup might pass away from him. A true 
picture this of genuine humanity in distress. It is natural to 
us to hate pain, and to have an abhorrence of misery. The 
constitution of our beings requires it should be so. It is the 
first and strongest principle the Creator hath cast into the 
human frame. The philosophy taught in the heathen world 
by Zeno and his followers, that pains and afflictions are no 
evils, and that a wise man should be hardened against all 
sense of them, was truly perversive, not perfective of the 
nature of man. To feel calamities when they come upon us, 

of our Saviour s conduct ? I answer, No. Those expressions are far 
too narsh, and cannot be applied to our Lord without manifest injustice. 
He had not, indeed, that intrepidity, for which the rude heroes of history 
are celebrated, who were fearless and undaunted in their greatest dan 
gers. What then ? Was a character expected in him that required a 
peculiar warmth of the blood and juices, and the impetus of some crimi 
nal passion, to form and exhibit ? Natural courage is well known to be 
mechanical, and to rise and fall with a certain temperature of the body. 
The passions, says Mr. Grove, which have most filled the world with 
heroes, are vainglory, and a dread of the reproach of cowardice. Moral 
Philosophy, Vol. II. p. 259. What is to be looked for in the blessed 
Jesus is a perfectly moral character. Now a manly, virtuous courage is 
so far from being incompatible with, that it supposes, fear. For as that 
is inspired with a sense of what is just and honorable, the fear of infamy 
to one s self, or of injury to others, must needs take place, inasmuch as 
the objects are evils that ought, if possible, to be avoided, and when and 
in whomsoever those fears shall coincide with the natural fear of death, & 
passive fortitude is all that can be expected. 

" And as to inconstancy of mind, I ask, Who is there among the sons 
of men, or what are they, whom the circumstances of time and place, in 
respect to a cruel and ignominious death, will not sensibly affect ? A 
person, doomed to suffer as a state criminal, may indeed put on the stoic 
on such an occasion, and in point of prudence, as it is called, or for the 


or upon others, and to give vent to our tears,* is much more 
congruous and suitable to our frame and station, than the 
apathy and rant of the Stoics. We are connected with flesh 
and blood, made with selfish and social affections and passions, 
and placed here in a state of discipline ; and a tender, suscep 
tible temper better become^ us, and will sooner perfect our 
virtue, than insensibility and foolhardiness. This considera 
tion alone, if there were none other, should make us not 
ashamed of Jesus in his agony in the garden, or on the 
cross." f 

The following account of this awful scene is exhibited by 
the four Evangelists. " When Jesus had spoken these words 
[thsit. consolatory discourse recorded in the fourteenth, fif 
teenth, and sixteenth chapters of St. John s Gospel] he went 
forth with his disciples over the brook Cedron, where was a 
garden [Gethsemane], into which he entered and his disciples. 
And he saith to the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and 

sake of his honor, stifle his passions from the view of others. And no 
doubt hut that tin s has often been the case. But our Lord acted upon 
no such mean motives. He felt things to impress him differently, and he 
told what he felt. The mind is not answerable for these different impres 
sions. They are unavoidable to it, and the result of the human frame. 
Had not Jesus shown a reluctancy to the evils now before him, the reality 
of his sufferings might justly have been called in question. And so far 
was he in this his behavior from acting an inconsistent or incomtant part, 
that, notwithstanding he felt a greater uneasiness to himself than at any 
other time, he stood firm to the noble resolution he had formed, of aii 
entire submissive obedience to the Divine Will. There is then no im 
peachment of the courage and constancy of our Lord. His character 
remains unsullied, yea, shines through the darkest cloud that ever passed 
over him." Moore on our Saviour s Agony, pp. 88 - 90. 

* They who of all writers undertake to imitate nature most, oft intro 
duce even their heroes weeping. See how Homer represents Ulysses, 
Od. I. ver. 151 ; II. ver. 7, 8. The tears of men are in truth very differ 
ent from the cries and ejulations of children. They are silent streams, 
and flow from other causes ; commonly some tender, or perhaps philo 
sophical, reflection. It is easy to see how hard hearts and dry eyes come 
to be fashionable. But, for all that, it is certain the glandulce lac/irymales 
are not made for nothing. Religion of Nature Delineated, p. 139, note. 

t Moore on our Saviour s Agony, pp. 102, 103. 


pray yonder. And he took with him Peter and the two sons 
of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful, to be sore amazed, 
and very heavy. And he saith to them, My soul is exceed 
ing sorrowful, even unto death : tarry ye here and watch. 
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone s cast, and 
fell on the ground and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be 
possible, let this cup pass from me ! nevertheless, not my will, 
but thine, be done ! And he cometh unto the disciples, and 
findeth them fast asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could 
ye not watch with me one hour ? Watch ye and pray, lest 
ye enter into temptation ; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is 
weak. He went away the second time, and prayed, my 
Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink 
it, thy will be done ! And he came and found them asleep 
again, for their eyes were heavy, neither wist they what to 
answer him. And he left them and went away again, and 
prayed the third time, saying the same words. And there 
appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him. 
And being in an agony, he prayed more earnestly, and his 
sweat was, as it were, great drops of blood falling down to 
the ground. And when he rose from prayer, and was come 
to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow ; and he 
saith unto them, Sleep on now and take your rest: it is 
enough, the hour is come : behold, the Son of Man is be 
trayed into the hands of sinners." * Let the reader figure to 
himself our Lord s situation at this time, and consider what 
images must necessarily obtrude upon his mind. His ministry 
was now closed, he was in a few moments to be appre 
hended and treacherously delivered into the power of those 
who had long thirsted for his blood, his beloved disciples 
were going to abandon him in his adversity, and in two days* 
time, by wicked hands, he would be crucified and slain. Jesus 
now had a strong conscious perception of all these impending 
calamities. Let the reader s imagination represent to him 

* I have formed the several circumstances related by different Evange 
lists into one continued aarrative. 


the state of our Saviour s mind in this awful crisis; and 
with the full idea of his situation before him, let him con 
sider, whether the following painful reflections crowding into 
his soul, in this melancholy hour, might not naturally produce 
that scene of distress and horror the sacred writers have 


One cause which no doubt greatly contributed to distress 
our blessed Saviour, now his ministry was concluded, was the 
distressing reflection that his painful labors and benevolent at 
tempts to convert and reform the Jews had proved generally 
unsuccessful. In the fulness of time God the Father had sent 
him from heaven among men, and empowered him to work 
many stupendous and beneficent miracles in confirmation of his 
divine mission and character. In the space of three years 
and a half, he had in person visited the cities, towns, and 
villages of Judasa, and in all of them had effected such aston 
ishing operations and supernatural cures, as could evidently 
be ascribed to nothing but to the immediate power and 
agency of God. He had delivered to his country a perfect 
system of religion and morals, enforced by the strongest en 
couragements, and recommended by his own virtuous and 
irreproachable conduct. And yet his conduct, his doctrines, 
his precepts, his miracles, had been able to make little im 
pression on the hearts of this depraved people. They de 
spised the meanness of his birth and the obscurity of his 
family. They were prejudiced against the place of his edu 
cation, and declared it impossible that a prophet should ever 
arise out of Nazareth. So averse had they been from all 
conviction and instruction, and so deliberately determined to 
shut their eyes against the clearest light, th:it they attributed 
the most amazing displays of Divine power to a compact 
and intercourse with Beelzebub. This man doth not work 
miracles, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. Instead 
of attending his public ministry with minds sincerely disposed 
fci the reception of truth, they contrived low clandestine 


arts to ensnare him, and hoped, from some incautious ex 
pressions into which they might betray him, to accuse him as 
a traitor to the Roman government, and effectuate his con 
demnation and death as an enemy to Caesar. These were the 
illiberal and dishonorable expedients they employed to murder 
the Messiah. Are such principles and dispositions as these 
friendly to truth and virtue ? Is a nation, which manifests 
such a character as this, and frames such measures as these 
against the life of a holy and good man for remonstrating 
against their superstition, bigotry, and immoralities, to be 
convinced by the force of evidence, and moved by the 
charms of an amiable example ? So far were they from 
examining his doctrines and pretensions to the high character 
he assumed, with coolness and candor, that they practised 
every method to prevent them from being admitted, and ex 
cluded those from their synagogues who openly professed 
them. How determined and inveterate their virulence was 
against our Lord s person and usefulness, we may judge from 
this single most egregious instance of it, their solemnly de 
liberating in council to destroy Lazarus, merely for being the 
subject of one of his miracles.* Impossible, therefore, was 
it for our Saviour to propagate his religion in a nation so 
prejudiced and depraved. All his attempts to make them 
virtuous and everlastingly happy proved ineffectual. 

Now this wrung his benevolent heart with the acutest 
anguish. The consideration that his country should have 
rejected that system of divine truths he had been delegated 
from God his Father to deliver to them, overwhelmed him 
in the deepest sorrow and distress. When he now reviewed 
the past years of his ministry, it filled him with great and 
painful concern, that his miracles had been so numerous, but 
his success so very inconsiderable. He had made it the 
uniform study of his life to diffuse happiness around him, 
to do good to the souls and bodies of men, had performed 

* " But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to 
death." John xii. 10. 


the most benevolent cures, taught the most excellent doc 
trines, exhibited a perfect character, to engage his country 
to embrace a religion which came recommended and enforced 
by so many evidences of its credibility and divine authority. 
But what converts had he made, what effects had the cause 
of God and truth, of liberty and immortality, produced? 
This was the painful reflection which now wounded his soul. 
He had come to his own, but his own had not received him ! 
That nation, whose guardian angel he had probably ever 
been, and whom he had anxiously superintended in every 
period of time and change of government, had now rejected 
his person and his doctrines, and were going to imbrue their 
hands in his blood as an impostor. This disingenuity and 
ingratitude transfixed his soul, and a painful review of the 
insuperable prejudices, enormous corruptions, and determined 
impenijency of his country must necessarily oppress him, in 
this hour of darkness, with very deep distress, and contribute 
its weight of woes to produce that agony which he now 


Another cause which conduced to occasion this extreme 
dejection and sorrow of our blessed Saviour, was the percep 
tion he had that he would immediately be abandoned by all 
his disciples and friends in these his last extremities. If my 
readers have ever known, by unhappy experience, the cruelty 
and infelicity of being deserted by a friend, at a time of im 
pending adversity and distress, let them now recall to mind 
what they suffered on that occasion, and transfer their thoughts 
to our Saviour s sensibilities in the like circumstances. His 
disciples had been the companions of his labors. He had 
selected them from the world to be his attendants and friends. 
To them he had unbosomed his soul. Having loved his own, 
he loved them unto the end, says St. John. He maintained for 
them a most faithful and affectionate love, from the time he 
chose them to the last period of his life. They had relin 
quished their families, their occupations, and all their con- 


nections, to adhere to him and his cause. They had during 
the whole course of his ministry accompanied him from place 
to place, and mutually shared with him the reproach and 
odium of the world. But O dire reverse ! O Adversity, 
how seldom art thou a witness to faithful friendship ! The 
companions of his labors, from whose fidelity he might rea 
sonably expect consolation, and whose firm adherence to his 
person and interests he might naturally hope would now give 
a sanction to the cause he and they had espoused, dishonor 
ably desert him. When these last calamities invade him, lo, 
they fly,* and suffer persecution and death to overwhelm him, 
alone and unsupported. At a time when probably he should 
want the aids of true friendship most, to attest his innocence 
and assuage his sufferings, they have abandoned him, and 
appear ashamed of the cause in which they had all em 

But not only their unfaithfulness and disgraceful desertion 
of him, but the ingratitude and treachery of Judas, no doubt, 
in these moments he now spent in the garden of Gethsernane, 
must wound his generous mind with the most cruel anguish. 
We find that this baseness of Judas gave our Lord great 
distress. " When Jesus had thus said, he was troubled in 
spirit, and testified and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, 
one of you shall betray me ! " John xiii. 21. The reflection, 
that, in that small number whom he had selected to be his 
particular friends and companions, one should prove so un 
grateful and perfidious as for a paltry sum to betray him to 
his enemies, and that in a very short time he should see this 
very person, whom he had admitted into his friendship, head 
ing a mob to apprehend him, the bitter reflection must rend 
a bosom so susceptible as our Saviour s appeareth to be. 
" Great minds hare a delicacy in their perception. They 
feel ingratitude more than others, as they are less deserving 

* " At simul intonuit, fugiunt, nee noscitur ulli, 
Agminibus comitutn qui modo cinctus erat." 

Ovid. Tn.t. 


of it And indeed the best of men have met with this sort 
of ill usage. David, more than once, deplores the like, in 
language which shows how sensibly he was touched. Yea, 
my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, who did eat of 
my bread, hath lift up his heel against me. For it was not 
an enemy that reproached me, then I could have borne it ; 
but it was thou, a man mine equal, my guide, and mine ac 
quaintance. " * 

Such was the situation of our Saviour. Rejected by the 
Jews ; abandoned by his disciples. The review of life pain 
ful, the immediate prospect full of horror. Invaded with 
such complicated distress, can we wonder that he should so 
earnestly implore Almighty God to save him from this hour, 
and to let this cup pass from him that he might not drink it? 
It is the natural language of piety and virtue in distress : the 
first prayer which a dependent creature in afflictive circum 
stances addresses to Heaven. 


Another cause which may justly be assigned to account for 
this agony and the petition he preferred to God, was the 
strong perception of that insult, ignominy, and torture he was 
shortly to endure. The perception of these dreadful evils, 
we may reasonably suppose, greatly impressed his mind, and 
strongly affected his exquisitely tender and delicate sensibili 
ties. His mind anticipated all that cruel and inhuman treat 
ment he should very shortly experience, the immediate 
arrest and seizure of his person, his illegal trial, his impris 
onment as an impostor, his outrage from the Roman soldiers, 
who would treat him with the last indignities, scourge him, 
clothe him in robes of mock royalty, and insult him as the 
rival and enemy of Coesar, and, as the completion of all 
these evils, his condemnation to suffer the ignominious and 
excruciating death of crucifixion. Over these scenes hia 
mind now brooded. He had the full idea of them impressed 

* Seo Moore s Inquiry, p. 46. 


on his soul. In the dire apprehension of these impending 
horrors, a mind possessed of such exquisite sensibilities must 
suffer great depression. The view of these approaching evils 
forced from him that petition, Father, save me from this 
hour ! By which is manifestly meant the hour of death, as 
Grotius judiciously interprets it. It is to this the author of 
the Epistle to the Hebrews refers, when he says, that our 
Lord in the days of his flesh offered up prayers and supplica 
tions, with strong crying and tears, unto Him that was able to 
save from death. Heb. v. 7. I leave it to my reader s 
imagination to represent the situation of his Saviour in these 
moments. Let any person, endowed with the feelings of 
humanity, declare, whether in such circumstances the petition, 
Let this cup pass from me, be not natural language, and an 
exit big with barbarity, contumely, and horror is not to be 
deprecated. If the human mind shudders at the fancied 
representation of pain so exquisite and durable, and a death 
so excruciating and reproachful, who can with any consistency 
and honor censure our Saviour, in such a situation, for discov 
ering a sense of it ? We might as reasonably blame him for 
being a man, and for having the common affections, feelings, 
and sensations of human nature. Was our Saviour a frantic 
and extravagant Stoic, whose divine tranquillity pain and 
human evils could not solicit ? Did he ever teach his follow 
ers that pain was no evil, or in his own person ever discover 
a total apathy and unconsciousness of the calamities and 
sufferings with which he encountered? Nothing less true. 
He assumed humanity, and had all the sensibilities of hu 
manity. He had, says the Apostle, a feeling of our infirmi 
ties, being tempted in all points just as we are. Our Lord 
discovered great sensibility of soul. Jesus wept, shed tears 
at the grave of his amiable deceased friend, Lazarus. Tears 
were also observed to stream from his eyes, when he looked 
down upon the city and uttered those pathetic expressions 
over it. O that thou, even thou, hadst known the things that 
belong to thy everlasting peace ; but now they are hidden 
from thine eyes ! He had an exquisite sense of human 


misery. In these unhappy exigencies he would offer up 
prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears. And 
could brutal insult, illegal condemnation, opprobrious mockery, 
di --graceful imprisonment, cruel buffeting and scourging, a 
mock investiture with royalty, public ignominy and crucifixion 
invade his heart, unaffected and unimpressed ? Would not 
the certain immediate prospect of this train of evils make 
strong impressions on a mind so susceptible of strong im 
pressions ? Had he met and sustained the shock with un 
feeling unconcernedness, and supported these his sufferings 
with an absolute insensibility of them, it would then have 
been asserted that he was not really invested with human 
nature, and that the assertions of his historians, that he was 
a man, were entirely hypothetical and imaginary. If he had 
endured these evils with a torpid composure, it would have 
been said that he never felt them, and that the human form 
he exhibited to the world was merely ideal and visionary. 
So that in this case strong objections would have been formed 
against the truth and reality of his person. Had he met his 
sufferings with a fearless intrepidity, and appeared in the midst 
of them with an idiot serenity, the world, I am persuaded, 
would have been more dissatisfied with his conduct, would 
have formed it into an argument against the truth of the 
Christian religion, and reviled its author as a frantic Stoic or 
an unfeeling enthusiast. 

Do we admire some of the philosophers for their contempt 
of pain ? Do we applaud their boasted tranquillity of mind, 
which no tortures could discompose, and secretly wish that 
our Lord had sustained his affliction with as great constancy 
and fortitude as some of them ? But let me freely declare, 
that if we admire these old sages for their doctrines of in 
sensibility of pain, and for their serenity of mind in the 
midst of the most racking disorders, we really admire them 
for philosophical madness, and a wild, extravagant, infatuated 
quixotism. Our passions are part of our nature. They can 
never be eradicated. We can by no arts and arguments 
annihilate our sensibilities. It is frenzy to attempt or to 


affect it. Our Saviour never taught, or practised upon, such 
an unnatural system. He had the same perception of human 
misery with ourselves, and suffered in the conflict, just as we 
do. Dr. Whitby delivers it as his opinion, that this extreme 
dejection and agony of our Saviour arose from the strongly 
impressed apprehension of those dreadful sufferings which 
would so speedily befall him, and further says, that it is ex 
tremely difficult to assign any other cause of this excess of 
sorrow and dispiritedness which now seized him. Some con 
siderable time before, the thought of this violent exit seems 
greatly to have impressed our Saviour s mind. " I have a 
baptism to be baptized with, and how am I straitened until it 
be accomplished ! Now is my soul troubled : but what shall 
I say? Father, save me from this hour!" Consider the 
wretchedness of such a death ! The exquisite torture of hav 
ing the hands and feet perforated with nails, being fastened 
to a cross, and for days and nights continuing, as many of 
these wretches did, in all this agonizing pain, till all the 
powers of life were exhausted in a lingering and most miser 
able manner. Think of this, and then censure our blessed 
Lord for being appalled at the prospect. Think of what he 
suffered, and you will see cause to justify the petition he 
preferred to Heaven amidst these pangs: "My God! my 
God! why hast thou forsaken me?" Impress your minds 
with an affecting sense of a person so illustrious, of innocence 
so distressed, of sufferings so intense and durable, of indig 
nities and insults so dishonorable and injurious, of a death 
so excruciating and full of horror, and of such a spectacle 
displayed before angels and men, and then reflect whether 
his agony in the garden of Gethsemane may not be accounted 
for. Then consider, whether you cannot rationally account 
for such a supplication in such a situation : O my Father, let 
this cup pass from me ! It was the near prospect and antici 
pation of such sufferings and such an exit as this, which made 
him, in the days of his flesh, offer up the most importunate 
requests and supplications, with strong cries and tears, to that 
Being who was able to extricate him from death, and ho 
was heard m that he feared. 



It is highly probable that at this time our Lord had a 
strong perception of the various troubles and persecutions to 
which his disciples and followers would be subjected, in con- 
, sequence of their attachment to him and his religion. This 
thought would greatly depress him, and deeply wound his 
tender spirit. And I make no doubt but the prescience and 
distinct view he had of that multiplicity of sorrows and suf 
ferings which would invade his adherents after his death, 
greatly contributed to his present agony and extreme dejec 
tion. He knew they had to contend with innumerable diffi 
culties in attempting to reform a superstitious and corrupt 
world. He evidently foresaw that the system of religion and 
morals he had delivered would everywhere be spoken against, 
would, on account of its genius and nature, prove a stumbling- 
block to the Jews, and to the Greeks foolishness. He knew 
that, for propagating his religion in the world, and for their 
inviolable adherence to his cause, they would endure the most 
miserable torments and deaths which the genius of men could 
devise, or the cruelty and odium of persecutors inflict. All 
these scenes of future persecution now crowded into his mind, 
and the painful anticipation overwhelmed him. It was his 
exquisite benevolent feelings which occasioned this extreme 
distress. The reflection that so many innocent persons 
should be involved in these calamities for embracing and 
spreading his doctrine, was too painful for him to support.* 
They were for several centuries to struggle under the incum 
bent weight of established error and superstition, prince 
and magistrate, priest and people, would be confederated 
against them, they were to wrestle, not only against flesh 
and blood, the common prejudices of mankind, but to contend 
with principalities and powers and spiritual rulers in high 

-yap Tr 
To irevdos , ?? KOI rr)S /LM)S 

Sophocles, (Ed. 2 yran., v. 93, 


places ; tlie secular sword would be everywhere unsheathed 
to extirpate the cause in which they had embarked; they 
would be driven from city to city, from country to country, 
Jews and Greeks differing in other things, but agreeing in 
this, to exterminate them and their religion from the world ; 
they would be the objects of such implacable odium and 
detestation, that whoever should kill them would be esteemed 
as doing God eminent service ; they were to endure poverty 
and indigence for their unshaken constancy to their principles, 
to wander about in deserts and mountains, and to seek refuge 
in dens and caves of the earth, being destitute, afflicted, tor 
mented ; they were to be precipitated into prisons and dun 
geons, to be exposed to the fury of wild beasts, to afford 
sport and diversion for a brutal rabble, and to be made a 
spectacle to the world, to angels and men ; for the sake of 
Christ they were to be killed all the day long, to be accounted 
as sheep for the slaughter. These subsequent calamities our 
Lord perfectly knew. He saw the gathering storm which 
would soon break over their heads. He had met with every 
injury and indignity for his endeavors to reform a wicked 
nation, and from his own experience he knew that the same 
principles and conduct in them would produce the same con 
sequences, and render them equally obnoxious to a depraved 
world. He knew they had every opposition to expect from 
those whose religious errors they condemned, and whose im 
moralities they freely censured ; that superstitious and wicked 
persons, of all others, would most strenuously exert them 
selves to destroy a kingdom of truth and righteousness, by 
murdering those who attempted to erect and establish it. 
This reflection awakened all his tenderness, and his benevo 
lence made him feel exquisite anguish for his faithful, suffering 
followers. Here his affections were powerfully excited, and 
his painful solicitude for the future fortunes of his disciples 
overpowered his soul. He loved them with the greatest 
warmth and delicacy of affection. Having loved his own 
who were in the world, he loved them to the end ; and this 
love caused him to enter intimately into their future distresses, 


and affectionately to share them by a generous condolence 
He antedated them, he represented them strongly to his mind, 
and by a painful anticipation, and exquisite sympathy, now 
fell all the severe force and weight of these evils. What 
mental anxiety and distress he felt on account of their future 
miseries and persecutions appears from that consolatory dis 
course, recorded by St. John, which was addressed to these 
his mournful and melancholy friends, who were in the last 
dejection at the thought of his departure from them. If the 
world hate you, you know that it hated me before it hated 
you. Remember the word that I said to you, The servant is 
not greate^ than his Lord. If they have persecuted me, they 
will also persecute you ; if they have insidiously watched my 
words, they will insidiously watch yours also. Verily I say 
unto you, you shall weep and lament, but the world shall re 
joice. With great reason, therefore, we may suppose that all 
these scenes of future woe now crowded into our Lord s mind 
at once. Love, pity, sympathy, benevolence, were the great 
emotions and passions which labored in his breast. The 
opposition his cause would meet with in the world, and the 
dreadful sufferings in which those would be involved who 
maintained it, wrung his heart with the acutest anguish, and 
overwhelmed it in the deepest sorrow. This painful reflec 
tion, conspiring with the other causes I have alleged, produced 
the deplorable situation here recorded, rendered him unequal 
to the shock, made the assistance of an angel necessary to 
support and strengthen him, and caused him to sweat, as it 
were,* great drops of blood falling to the ground. 

* Observe, this is only a simile or comparison of the Evangelist to 
illustrate the profuseness of our Saviour s sweat. Eyei/ero 3e 6 iSpwg 
avrov Q2EI 6p6p.j3oi aip.aros. Luke xxii. 44. Just as all the four 
Evangelists, intending to give their reader a just idea of the rapid descenj 
of the Eoly Spirit upon Christ, after his baptism, compare it to the 
velocity of a dove, Q2EI rrfpia-Tcpdv, not that the Holy Spirit assumed 
the sluipe of a dove, but descended and alighted upon our Lord with the 
rapidity with which a dove darts from the sky to the earth. Probably 
there was now the same appearance as at the day of Pentecost, The 



It appeareth to me, also, that the impending calamities and 
ruin of his country, in consequence of their enormities and 
of their ingratitude and wickedness in rejecting and crucify 
ing him, may be reckoned as one of the principal causes 
which produced this agony. It is a very unjust and ground 
less objection which Lord Shaftesbury hath advanced against 
the Christian religion, that the author of it never recom 
mended private friendship and the love of our country. 
Every one who is in the least acquainted with the life of 
Christ, cannot but know that our Lord was an example of 
both these. From his most intimate friends, the Apostles, he 
selected one, whose amiable temper and disposition appear to 
have been most similar to his own, and whom he honored 
with a peculiar delicacy and tenderness of affection. And 
how well he loved his native country appears from the whole 
of his life. He confined his instructions and labors solely to 
the lost sheep of the house of Israel, declaring that to them 
only he was sent. Never was there a philosopher or hero 
who loved his country with a more generous ardor of the 
truest and noblest benevolence than our blessed Saviour, if a 
constant study and active disposition to promote the welfare 
and happiness of the community in which one is born may 
be styled the love of one s country. Dear to us, says Tully, 
are our parents, our children, our relations, our friends ; but 
our country compriseth and embraceth everything that is 

word 6pop,f3<>i is very beautiful and expressive. It does not occur in the 
New Testament but only in this passage. It signifies large globules, thick 
and clammy clots of gore or sweat, pitch, milk, &c. Hesychius explains 
Opdp-Pos by aipa Tra^u, TTfTnjyos cos fiovvoi. IloTap.os apa TG> vdart 
Bpdpftovs dcr(j)a.\Tov nvaSiSot iroXXovs, "Mixed with the water, the 
river sendeth up many large clots of bitumen." Herodotus, Clio, p. 386, 
Vol. I. Glasg. "GOT tv yaXaxn 6pdjj.^ov a.1p.aros (nrdcrai. vEschyli 
Choeph., vcrs. 531. 0poju/3a> 5 e)iiei/ a fuzro? (piXov yaAa. Ibid, 
vers. 544. Ai/xaroff Opopftovs fifXavas, " Large black globules of blood/ 1 
Hippocrates, Lib. III. 19, edit. Linden, 


dear and valuable to us. In conformity to this maxim our 
Saviour really acted. He broke -every parental and fraternal 
connection, all the ties of consanguinity, and forsook all the 
endearments of private life to consult the welfare of his 
country. What can be more pathetic and expressive of the 
warmest benevolence, than that complaint and lamentation he 
uttered over his incorrigible and devoted country, "0 that 
thou, even thou, hadst known in this thy day the things that 
belong to thine everlasting peace ! " The strong perception 
he had of their imminent calamities forced him in this plain 
tive and affectionate manner to deplore their wretched fate. 
One of the Evangelists informs us, that when he drew near 
the city he wept over it. Generous minds feel strongly for 
the unhappy. It was benevolence, pity, and love for his 
unfortunate country, which called forth his grief, and caused 
him to shed these tributary tears, at once the affecting memo 
rials of his love, and the awful tokens of its approaching 
doom. As he had a perfect knowledge, so he had a painful 
sympathetic sense, of those dreadful calamities which would 
shortly overwhelm his country, for their enormities in dis 
obeying and murdering the Lord of life. " Daughters of 
Jerusalem," said he to the women who were beating their 
breasts and deploring his unhappy fate, when he was led to 
Calvary, " weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for 
your children : for behold the days are coming in which they 
shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never 
bare, and the breasts that never gave suck. Then shall they 
begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, 
Cover us ; for if they do these things in a green tree, what 
shall be done in the dry ? " Accordingly, in about forty years 
after his resurrection, the Romans invaded Judrea, spread 
desolation everywhere, at last invested the capital, enclosed 
an infinite number of people in it, who had then come from 
all parts to celebrate the Passover, drew lines of circum- 
vallation round them, and thus devoted them to all the 
miseries of famine, pestilence, and war. After incredible 
numbers had perished by mutual assassinations and famine, 



the city was stormed and plundered, the temple burnt, the 
buildings demolished, the walls razed from the foundations, 
the greatest part of the Jews were put to the sword, the rest 
sold for slaves into foreign countries. These calamities, in 
severer than which never was any nation involved, had their 
completion in Adrian s time, who published an edict prohib 
iting every Jew, on pain of death, from setting a foot in 

All these scenes of national calamity and ruin our Lord 
perfectly knew ; and the painful apprehension and view made 
him commiserate his falling country. What affection, pity, 
sympathy, and sorrow are mingled hi that pathetic exclama 
tion : " O Jerusalem ! Jerusalem ! thou that killest the proph 
ets, and stonest those that are sent to thee ! How often would 
I have gathered thy children, even as a hen gathereth her 
chickens under her wings, but you would not ! Therefore is 
your house left unto you desolate." Now if our Saviour s 
mind, in the course of his ministry, was so much affected and 
depressed by the thought of his country s disobedience, and 
of their deplorable ruin, the certain effect of it, how much 
more may we justly suppose must he be dejected and dis 
tressed when he was now entering upon those sufferings 
which he knew would assuredly bring on his devoted country 
these dreadful inflictions. If he indulged and manifested 
such grief for only one single person, for the death of his 
dear friend Lazarus, how inexpressibly must he suffer for 
the destruction of a very large collective body of men, to 
whom he was connected by the common endearing bond of 
natural affection and country? 

In this manner, I apprehend, the agony of our Lord, and 
his prayer to God that this cup might pass from him, may 
be rationally accounted for, without recurring to any impious 
and absurd hypothesis which derogates from the wisdom, rec 
titude, and goodness of the Deity, and disparages the inno 
cence and merit of this illustrious sufferer, ascribing it, I 
mean, to the dereliction and wrath of God, the temptation 
and tyranny of Satan, into whose power he was Curing this 


scene totally delivered, or to the incumbent weight of all 
the sins of the whole world, whose ponderous and oppressive 
load, during these moments, he was permitted of God to 
feel and support. I humbly conceive that his unsuccessful- 
ness in reclaiming and reforming the Jews ; the desertion of 
his disciples ; the perception of the insult and ill usage*he was 
shortly to sustain, the arrest and seizure of his person, the 
illegal process through which he was to pass, the injurious 
and contumelious treatment he would experience in the con 
duct of it, being buffeted, delivered up to the Romans, vested 
with mock royalty, scourged, imprisoned, crucified ; the fore 
sight of the calamities and persecutions of his followers for 
maintaining and spreading his religion ; and the imminent 
destruction of his country; these are causes adequate to 
such an effect. Especially if we add, that the great and un 
remitting labor in which he had been employed for the jive 
days which preceded his agony must necessarily have con 
tributed to render him low and weak at this time, and reduced 
him to a state of great debility and lassitude. This combi 
nation of painful ideas collecting, as in a focus, their whole 
accumulated energy and force, and pouring in a strong vehe 
ment stream upon an exquisitely sensible and tender spirit, 
so entirely penetrated and overwhelmed it, as to render the 
interposition of a heavenly messenger necessary to strengthen 
and support him. So violent was the commotion excited by 
these sad images obtruding all at once upon his mind, that 
he complained that his soul was exceeding sorrowful, even 
unto death.* And in such a situation, amidst the tumult of 

* The expressions used by the sacred writers to represent the intense- 
ness of his agony are the most strong and emphatical which could 
have been employed. Uf/nXuTros, exceedingly sorrowful, excessively dis 
tressed. Xle/nXuTros e<rriv r] ^l/v^f) p.ov fa>$ ddvdrov- Matt. xxvi. 38. 
EK$a/i/3fIo-0<u, used by Mark, ch. xiv. 33, signifies to be stunned and 
overa-hel ined with any passion, to be fixed in astonishment to be lost in 
wonder and amazement. It is used to express the extreme Terror and con 
sternation of the women at the unexpected sight of an angel in our Lord s 
sepulchre. Mark xvi. 5, 6. And the great amazement of the multitude 


BO many painful reflections crowding in perpetual succession 
upon a delicate mind, and in the near prospect of such inju 
rious treatment and such an excruciating death, is not the 
consternation and sensibility our Lord expressed natural, and 
the petition he preferred to heaven, in such a crisis, if it 
pleased God to let this cup pass from him, the very first 
dictate of the human heart, and the genuine, constant language 
of a dependent creature when involved in distress ? 

I shall conclude this Dissertation with the reflections of a 
very judicious author.* " In the first place," says this inge 
nious writer, " this befell our Lord just as he had finished his 
public ministry. Intenseness of thought, in a long course of 

at beholding the miracle wrought on the lame man. Acts iii. 11. 
Adrjpovclv is a strong expression, and signifies to be in great defection, to 
suffer the last anguish and distress of mind. KXeorrdrpav TTfpie^eve, KCU 
3pa$vvov(rr]s dSr; povwv fj\ve, " He [Antony] anxiously expected Cleo 
patra ; and upon her delaying to come, he sunk into the last dejection 
and distress." Plutarch in Vita Antonii, p. 939, edit. Francof., 1620. 
*E(p (o 8r] 6 erepos avrav ddr)novf)<ra$, tavrov fcrtya^e, " On which ac 
count one of them was so dejected, that he laid violent hands on himself." 
Dio Cassius, Tom. II. p. 924, edit. Reimari, Hamburg, 1752. Kav 
TOVTCO Kal T(OV Pco/Wcof nvfs d8r]p.ovf)(ravTfs, ola ev XP OV ^ TroXtop/aa, 
fj,(T(TTr)crav, " In the mean time some of the Romans, being extremely | 
dejected, as is usual in a tedious siege, revolted to the enemy." Dio Gas- ) 
sius, p. 1080, ejusdem editionis. HSr/p^fi p.ev yap opwv TO napdXo- 
yov rr]S yvvaiKos irpos avrov ^uaros OVK anoKfKpv^fvov, " He suffered 
the last anguish and distress at seeing his wife s abhorrence of him, which 
he did not expect, or she study to dissemble." Josephus, Tom. I. p. 760, 
edit. Havercamp. *H87jju,oi/oi5i/ 8e, pr) (pddcras KaraXDoYii ro nav epyov 
OVK e^apK(Ti irpos T\os dyayelv rtjv Trpoaipfcriv, " But they were in 
the utmost distress, lest the king, after demolishing the whole work, should 
not be able to execute his design." Josephus, p. 778, Haverc. AS^/io- 
vtwvra fie rbv jSaatXea eVi rfj a7rayopfi<ret, " The emperor being great 
ly distressed at this repulse." Sozomen, Hist. Ecclcs., Lib. I. p. 14, edit. 
Cantab. 1720. AS^/zovoDi/raff 8e TOVS iStou? orpariccraff <wy r}TTn6ev- 
ras oowv, " Seeing his soldiers greatly dejected on account of their being 
defeated." Socrates, Hist. Eccl., p. 137. See also p. 356, edit. Reading, 
Cantab. 1720. 
* Moore on our Saviour s Agony, pp. 83 - 86. 


exercise, is, ordinarily, productive of, or succeeded by, per 
ceptions that are irksome and tedious. Such sort of busi 
ness naturally ends with fatigue ; and fatigue discovers itself 
through all the avenues of the senses, as well in the mind as 
in the body. And at such a season, it is notorious, the pas 
sions of grief and sorrow lie most open and exposed to objects 
which excite pain. Evils that are at other times tolerable, 
come now with double force, and make deep impression. The 
observation on this circumstance was the result of the first 
branch of our inquiry. It is repeated here because it serves 
o illustrate the reasons, or is itself one, why Jesus began to 
be sorrowful and very heavy. 

" Again. This happened to him when he was entering 
upon a new scene of sufferings. At such a crisis we find 
things future begin to have an actual existence, and are, as it 
were, quickened into life. The passions, big with expecta 
tion, are ready to break forth to meet their objects. There 
is always something vivid and strong in the perception of 
bare novelty itself. But when the novelty has a group of 
painful objects, the perceptions are more interesting, and 
alarm the whole human frame. Let us suppose one s self to 
be about being reduced from a state of affluence to penury ; 
or to be bereaved of one s friends ; or to undergo the ampu 
tation of a leg or an arm ; what kind of perceptions should 
we have? Would they not create a horror to the mind, 
agitate the animal spirits, or strike on the fine fibres of the 
heart and brain so as to make us shudder? If this be 
agreeable to common experience on such occasions, common 
experience is a clew that will help to unravel the causes of 
the sore amazement of our Lord at this juncture. 

" Again. lie was now on the spot where he was to pre 
pare himself and meet his sufferings. There may be facts 
transacted, or a variety of events to which we are subject, 
which will make the bare sight of places raise a combination 
of ideas and disturb and perplex the mind. It is so natural 
to connect things with places, that very often we make the 
latter a sort of focus where the moment of the whole business 


is collected. Have we a cause to litigate, or are we called to 
defend our country ? The entrance into the court of judi 
cature, or first view of the field of battle, shall give a more 
warm and sensible turn to the affections and passions, than per 
haps we shall feel through the whole trial, or meet with in the 
actual engagement. And if this was not exactly the case of 
our Lord, yet as he came hither on purpose to prepare and 
meet his sufferings, those sufferings must necessarily be rep 
resented and brought to the full view of his imagination. 
In order to suit ourselves to a condition, that condition must 
be surveyed and entered into by the mind. Wherefore we 
may suppose, that the first perception our Lord had, when 
he was at the place, was the kind and importance of the 
evils to which he was now to submit. This supposition is 
both pious and natural. Then we address the Supreme 
Being with propriety, when we have viewed the exigency 
of our affairs. We seldom need to court objects of pain. 
They are known to intrude themselves too often with a sort of 
eagerness. But in the present circumstance they are called 
for, and the attention of the mind to them is, as it were, 
demanded. Wherefore our Lord could not but be conscious 
of the perception he had of the evils before him. And that 
consciousness must increase in proportion to the number and 
weight they bore. It is agreeable to the natural order of 
things that it should be so. So that it is no wonder if a round 
of misery was the only perception he was for a time con 
scious of. Now here was he to be betrayed by one of his 
own disciples, seized and bound like a thief, abandoned by 
his friends, led away and treated with cruel and indignant 
usage. And the consequences hereof, replete with evils, 
found easy access, we may suppose, to a mind like his. The 
language of the best human heart on such an occasion would 
be, O what will become of my country, and of the men I 
love ! What an agitation would a man feel in his animal 
spirits, and how acute and powerful the operation between 
his passions and their objects in such a state and crisis as 
this ! It is evident the perception of misery, now, is right, 

and as it should be ; and the commotion that ensues is natural, 
and what will be. With respect to the latter, reason is too 
sublime, or comes too slow to have anything presently to do 
in the case. The violence of the commotion must cease 
before the understanding can attend to the dictates of reason. 
After this manner, probably, was Jesus exercised at this 

* " When Christ is compared to men who are said to have 
slept sound before a painful death, and to have discovered 
no sensibility in any period of it, the nature and use of his 
example is not considered ; his natural weakness, if it may be 
so called, being better calculated to show the strength of his 
faith, and therefore affording more encouragement to us to 
follow his steps. 

" But certainly our encouragement to follow Christ in suf 
fering and dying is greatly lessened by the notion of hu 
having had a power over his own sensations, so that in an} 
situation he could feel more or less at pleasure, and even pu< 
an end to all sensation by a premature death, which is sti icily 
prohibited to all his followers, and justly esteemed unbecom 
ing the firmness that is expected of other men, Cnnstians 
who entertain this idea of their Saviour cannot nave reflected 
on the nature of the case. 

" It may be said that, if Christ only felt as a wan during 
his agony, we should find something similar to it in the ac 
counts of some of the martyrs. But the probability is, thai 
no history of any martyr was ever written with such perfect 
fidelity as that of Christ by the Evangelists. It has been too 
much the object of the writers, and from the best views, 
namely, the encouragement of others, to exhibit the fortitude 
and heroism of the sufferers in the strongest light. 

" It must also be considered, that what a person suffers in 
his own mind, in the expectation of pain and death, is gen- 

* From the Theological Kepository, Vol. VI. pp. 314-319. 
Q R.N. 


erally known only to himself; and that the affections of the 
bodily frame are seldom so great, when he is in company, as 
to be visible to others. What our Saviour himself felt would 
not have been known, if he had not, for the best reasons, 
chosen that some of his disciples should be witnesses of it. 
For anything that appears, his agony might not last half an 
hour, and presently after it he was perfectly composed ; and 
his behavior the day following was such as could have given 
no person the least suspicion of what he had felt the pre 
ceding night. 

" But though nothing is related of any particular martyr 
that approaches to the case of our Saviour, yet, besides what 
we may judge from our own experience in the expectation 
of less evils, of what must have sometimes been felt in the 
expectation of greater ones, some circumstances are occa 
sionally mentioned by martyrologists, which sufficiently illus 
trate the account of the Evangelists. There are numberless 
cases in which martyrs are represented as peculiarly intrepid 
during their trial, and also immediately before, and even 
during the time of extreme torture, compared with what 
they had felt on the more distant view of it, though the man 
ner in which they were affected by that more distant view 
is not distinctly noted. 

" Many letters are preserved of martyrs, written in the 
interval between their apprehension and their deaths. But, 
besides that historians would seldom choose to publish any 
letters except such as, in their opinion, would do them credit, 
and serve the cause for which they suffered, that is, show 
their fortitude, a man who is capable of writing must be 
tolerably composed, and would not in general be himself in 
clined to dwell upon circumstances which would give himself 
and his friends pain. 

" From the account of one of the English martyrs, how 
ever, namely, Richard Woodman, it may easily be collected, 
that his sufferings during his conflict with himself, when, as 
he says (Fox s Book of Martyrs, Vol. III. p. 673), while he 
was * loth to forego his wife and children and goods/ were 


extreme. * This battle, he says, * lasted not a quarter of an 
hour ; but it was sharper than death itself for the time, I 
dare say/ After this he appears to have been perfectly 
calm, and he suffered with great fortitude. 

" Having now, I presume, some idea of the extreme dis 
tress and agony of mind under which our Lord labored, 
greater perhaps than any other man had ever felt before 
him, and also of the causes which produced it, let us consider 
his strength of mind in supporting the prospect of them. 
That he should wish to avoid going through the dreadful 
scene, we cannot think extraordinary. He would not have 
been a man if he had not, and that this wish should be ex 
pressed in the form of a prayer to that great Being at whose 
sovereign disposal he and all mankind always are, was quite 
natural. In a truly devout mind, which respects the hanu of 
God in everything, an earnest wish and a prayer are tlie 
same thing. Our Saviour, in this agony, did pray that, if it 
was possible, the bitter cup might pass from him. But by 
possible must, no doubt, be meant consistently with the designs 
of divine government. He therefore only expressed his desire 
that his painful death and sufferings might be dispensed with, 
if the same great and good ends could have been attained 
without them. For there can be no doubt but that with God 
all things are naturally possible. Our Lord s wish or prayer 
was therefore only conditional, and not absolute. He did not 
wish to be excused from suffering, whatever might be the 
consequence. Even in this most painful state of apprehen 
sion, he did not look to himself only, but to God, and the 
great ends of his government. 

" We may think it extraordinary that our Lord should for 
a moment suppose that what he wished or prayed for was, in 
any sense of the word, possible, knowing, as he himself ob 
serves, that for that end he came unto that hour ; his dying, 
with a view to a future resurrection, being a necessary part 
of that plan which he was to be the principal instrument in 
executing. But, besides that, in a highly agitated state of 
mind, the thing might for a moment appear in a different 


light, our Lord well knew that the appointments of God, 
even when expressed in the most absolute terms, are not 
always so intended. We have more instances than, one of 
similar orders and appointments, by which nothing was 
meant but the trial of a person s faith. 

" This was the case when Abraham was ordered to offer 
up his beloved son Isaac. Till the moment that his hand 
was actually raised to slay his son, that patriarch had no 
reason whatever to think that the death of his son, and that 
by his own hand, was not intended by the Divine Being. 
The order for the destruction of Nineveh in forty days was 
also delivered in absolute terms, though it was intended to be 
conditional, and in the event did not take place. Notwith 
standing, therefore, all that had passed in the communica 
tions which Jesus had with God, he could not tell but that 
possibly his death might not be necessary, and that the same 
end might be gained without it. In these circumstances, con 
sidering the natural love of life, and the dread of pain and 
death, the merest possibility, or the supposition of a possi 
bility, would certainly justify our Lord s prayer, especially 
when it is considered that, in the same breath with which he 
uttered it, he added, Nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou 
wilt. Notwithstanding the dread and horror of mind with 
which he viewed his approaching sufferings, he had no objec 
tion to them, if it was the determined will of God that he 
should bear them. This was a degree of resignation and 
fortitude which far exceeds anything that we read of in 
history. In all other instances in which persons have sweated 
through the fear of death, they would have given, or have 
done, anything to have avoided it. To them it appeared the 
greatest of all evils. 

" The courage which any man may show while his nerves 
are firm, is not to be compared with that of our Saviour s, 
when his were, in a manner, broken and subdued. It was 
not only while he was calm, and had a perfect command of 
himself, but when his perturbation and distress of mind was 
so great as to throw him into a profuse sweat, that he said, 


Kot as I will, hit as thou wilt. No man in any cool moment 
can form to himself an adequate idea of the heroism of this 
act. Because no man, in a cool moment, and under no terror 
of mind himself, can tell what his own wishes and prayers 
would be in a state of such dreadful agony as that of our 
Saviour. It will therefore be greater than he can conceive 
it to be. It is probable that nothing but the consciousness of 
his peculiarly near relation to God, and his full assurance of 
such a state of future glory as no other man would ever 
arrive at, could have supported him, and have preserved his 
resignation and fortitude, in a state of mind so peculiarly 
unfavorable to them." 




OUR Lord exhorted his apostles not to fear their perse 
cutors, who killed the body and could not kill the soul ; but 
rather to fear Him who was able to destroy both body and soul 
in hell.f This was an exhortation to fortitude in professing 
and propagating the true religion. His example taught this 
duty in its whole extent. 

He showed a noble contempt of worldly greatness by ap 
pearing in a low condition of life. During his public minis 
try he had not where to lay his head, J some of his pious 
attendants ministered to him of their substance, and he 
paid the tribute-money by miracle. || He suffered hunger, 
thirst, and weariness ; he was ever contending with the dul- 
ness of his disciples, the incredulity of his kinsfolk, and the 
reproaches and injuries of the Jews. And he " pleased not 
himself "1f; but submitted to many and great evils, that he 
might please God and benefit mankind. 

Let us observe in particular instances what " contradiction 
of sinners " ** he endured, and wliat greatness of mind he 

* From his " Observations on our Lord s Conduct as a Divine In- 
structor," &c. 

t Matt. x. 26, 28. t Matt. viii. 20. Luke viii. 3. 

II Matt. xvii. 27. T Rom. xv. 3. ** Heb xii. 3. 



When he had pronounced forgiveness of sins to a paralytic, 
some of the Scribes and Pharisees charged him with blas 
phemy for invading God s prerogative. But they made the 
accusation in the reasonings of their hearts ; and did not 
avow it openly. Notwithstanding this, Jesus, unawed by 
their authority, firmly but calmly expostulated with them for 
their evil thought ; * and argued that the discernment of a 
man s moral state might justly be allowed to him whom God 
had vested with the power of working miracles. 

Having healed a man on the Sabbath, who had labored 
under an infirmity for thirty and eight years, the Jews per 
secuted him and sought to kill him. Jesus answered, " My 
Father worketh hitherto, and I work " : f My Father pre 
serves, governs, and benefits the world without distinction of 
days ; and therefore I also extend good to men on the Sab 
bath. This mode of expressing himself furnished the Jews 
with an additional reason for seeking his life. Observe now, 
throughout the whole of the discourse immediately following, 
with what magnanimity our Lord perseveres in the same 
language. " The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he 
seeth the Father do." | " The Father loveth the Son, and 
showeth him all things which he himself doeth." " The 
Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto 
the Son : that all men should honor the SOD, even as they 
honor the Father" || 

Probably on the Sabbath after he had restored the lame 
man at the pool of Bethesda, our Lord intrepidly vindicated 
his disciples against the Pharisees, who had censured them 
for plucking and eating ears of corn on that day. *| And, 
thinking it expedient to wean the Jews from their excessive 
veneration for the law which he was about to abolish, on the 
Sabbath which next succeeded, though the Scribes and Phari 
sees watched him, he healed a man with a withered hand 

* Mark ii. 6 - 11. t Johii v. 17. J Ver. 19. $ Ver. 20. 

|| Ver. 22, 23. So ver. 21, 26, 30, 36, 37, 43, 45. 

? Luke vi. 1-4. 


publicly in the synagogue.* This filled them with madness ; 
and they took counsel how they might destroy him. 

Afterwards, as he was teaching in one of the synagogues 
on the Sabbath, he restored a woman who had been bowed 
together eighteen years, confuted the ruler of the synagogue 
who with indignation restrained the people from coming to 
be healed on the Sabbath, reproved his hypocrisy, as he 
concealed many vices under this semblance of piety, and 
made all his adversaries ashamed, f 

Again : as he was eating bread with a ruler of the Phari 
sees on the Sabbath, and those of that powerful sect insidi 
ously observed his conduct, a man with a dropsy stood before 
them. Jesus said to the teachers of the Law and the Phari 
sees, Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath day ? Knowing how 
invincibly he reasoned on this point, they kept silence. But 
Jesus "took him, and healed him, and sent him away."J 
Conscious of his rectitude, he was fearless of their power. 

Once more : at the Feast of Tabernacles, though it was 
the Sabbath, Jesus made clay and opened the eyes of one 
blind from his birth : and he wrought this miracle imme 
diately after the Jews had taken up stones to cast at him, 
and had sent officers to apprehend him. || 

I do not find in the history of the Apostles that they had 
the disengagement from prejudice, and the courage, to imi 
tate this part of our Lord s conduct. 

There are other instances which show that Jesus paid no 
deference to the wrong notions of the leading Jews. The 
Scribes and Pharisees murmured because he ate with pub 
licans and sinners in the house of Matthew the publican, f 
This censure did not .deter him from saying to Zaccheus, a 
chief of the publicans, at a time when multitudes surrounded 
him, This day I must abide in thine house.** 

When the Scribes and Pharisees from Jerusalem asked 

* Luke vi. 6 - 11. t Luke xiii. 10-17. J Luke xiv. 1 -8. 

$ John ix. 14. || See ch. vii., viii., ix. 1T Luke v. 30 

** Luke xix. 2-7. 


him why " his disciples walked not according to the tradition 
of the elders, but ate bread with unwashen hands " ; he 
expostulated with them for their hypocrisy, proved to them 
that they made void the commandment of God by their tra 
dition, characterized them as blind leaders of the blind, and 
thus introduced his explanation of moral defilement: "He 
called unto him all the multitude, and said unto them, 
Hearken unto me, all of you, and understand." * 

Another proof of our Lord s fortitude was, that, although 
his first preaching at Nazareth had exposed his life to 
danger,f the unbelief, the ingratitude, the outrage and vio 
lence of his countrymen, could not divert him from attempt 
ing their conversion a second time. J 

We have seen how undauntingly he reproved his enemies 
on just occasions ; and these were often the Jewish rulers 
who had his life in their power. 

He met death for the wisest and best ends, the glory of 
God and the salvation of mankind. He astonished his timid 
disciples by the readiness with which he went before them 
hi the way to Jerusalem, on the approach of the Passover at 
which he suffered ; when they all knew that his enemies 
were conspiring against his life, and he himself knew that 
he should suffer a most painful and ignominious death : he 
entered the city in a kind of public triumph : in the hearing 
of the multitude he reproved the vices of the Scribes and 
Pharisees to their face, || with unequalled energy, and with 
words " quick and powerful, and sharper than a two-edged 
sword " : IT when Judas rose from the paschal supper to 
betray him, he said to his disciples, with wonderful com 
posure, " Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glo 
rified through him " : ** he witnessed before the high-priest, 
and before Pontius Pilate, a good confession ; and showed 
that he voluntarily submitted to death, because he had 

* Mark vii. 1-15. t Luke iv. 29. J Mark vi. 1 - 6. 

* Mark x. 32 ; Luke xix. 28. J Matt, xxiii. 1. 
T Heb. iv. 12. ** John xiii. 31. 


ulously preserved his life at the preceding feasts of Taberna 
cles and Dedication.* 

It is natural to object, that our Lord s agony was incon 
sistent with the fortitude which some good men have actually- 
displayed. I shall give this objection its full force ; f and 
shall consider it with the attention which it demands. 

We read that our Lord often foretold his sufferings, and 
many particulars of them ; that he most sharply rebuked 
Peter for wishing them far from him ; J and that when Moses 
and Elias appeared to him at his transfiguration, they spake 
of his departure which he was about to accomplish at Jeru 
salem. He likewise knew that, according to the ancient 
prophecies, the Messiah ought to suffer what the Jews in 
flicted, || and to enter into his glory : ^[ and accordingly he 
predicted his resurrection on the third day,** his ascension 
into heaven,tt and his elevation to his glorious throne. JJ It 
must be added, that his pre-existing and divine state gave 
him a large and perfect view of this and every other plan 
of God s moral government. 

On the other hand, we must consider that our Lord was 
perfect man, and left men an example that they should follow 
his steps. He partook of flesh and blood, |||| like the chil 
dren given him by the common Father of all. " In all things 
it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren ; that he 
might be a merciful and faithful high-priest." He said to his 
apostles, "Ye are they who have continued with me .in my 
temptations" ^ " He was in all points tempted like as we 

* John viii. 59 ; x. 39. 

t Celsus thus states it, Orig. 1. 2, 24. Ti ovv irorviarai KOI oSupe- 
TCU, KOL TOV TOV 6\0pov <f)6fiov fij\Tai TTapaSpa/zeTi/, Xeycov a>8e TTWS * 
Q TTartp, K. T. X. 

t Matt. xvi. 22, 23. . $ Luke ix. 31. 

II Mark ix. 12 ; John iii. 14 ; Luke xviii. 31 ; xxii. 37 ; John xiii. 1, 3 ; 
xix. 28. 

U John xvii. 24 ; Matt. xix. 28 ; xxv. 31. 

** Matt. xx. 19. tt John vi. 62. JJ St* <the texts quoted at 1". 

it 1 Jet ii. 21. HI] Ueb. ii. 13, 14, 17. 11F Luke xxij. 28, 


are, yet without sin " ; * that he might be touched with the 
feeling of our infirmities. He himself was " compassed with 
infirmity"; f that he might pardon the ignorant and erro 
neous, and be moderately and not rigorously affected towards 

"We must also carefully remark of him, that he possessed 
the most exquisite feelings of human nature in the highest 
degree. J He was susceptible of joy, which instantly burst 
forth in devout thanksgiving. He was prone to compassion, 
and repeatedly melted into tears. The innocence of children 
engaged his affection ; his heart was open to the impressions of 
friendship ; and when he saw any degree of virtue, he loved 
it. j| He was grieved at unbelief, and had a generous indig 
nation against vice : and we find him touched with the quick 
est sense of his own wrongs : " Are ye come out as against 
a thief, with swords and staves, to take me ? " ^ 

Sometimes he spake of his sufferings with the greatest 
sensibility. " I have a baptism to be baptized with : and 
how am I straitened till it be accomplished ! " ** " Now is 
my soul troubled : and what shall I say ? Father, save me 
from this hour ! But for this cause came I unto this hour." ft 

It is true that he frequently foretold his death with much 
composure; and that he sternly reprehended Peter, when, 
from worldly views, that apostle began to rebuke him for 
uttering one of these predictions. JJ 

The horror of the sharpest sufferings which can be under 
gone will sometimes be greater, and sometimes less, in the 
iirmest and best minds ; as the evil is considered in its own 
nature, or under the idea of duty and resignation to God. 
The contest between reason and religion, and the natural 
dread of the greatest evils, must subsist when the most per- 

* Heb. iv. 15. t Heb. v. 2. 

$ See Barrow, Vol. I. Serm. XXXII. p. 475, ed. fol. 1683. 
t Matt. xi. 25. Luke x. 21. || Mark x. 21. 1 Matt. xxvi. 55. 

** Luke xii. 50. ft John xii. 27. ft Mark viii. 32. 

4 Ignominise cruciatuum et mortis horrorem in Christ! carne modo 
majorcm modo minorem fuisse apparct. Grot, in Matt. xvi. 23. 


feet virtue is called on to suffer them . and where it ends in 
a becoming resolution, and a pious submission to the wise and 
great Disposer of all events, the character is a consummate 
one in a moral and religious view.* 

Let us now turn our eyes to our Lord s conduct on the 
ni^lit before his crucifixion. Nothing can exceed the sedate- 
ness, the wisdom, and benevolence, which appear throughout 
the whole of it at the celebration of the paschal supper. He 
fir-t gently censured the contention for superiority which had 
arisen among the Apostles-t He then illustrated his doctrine 
of humility by an example of it, in washing their feet, He 
proceeded to declare with much emotion his knowledge of 
Judas s ungrateful and perfidious intention ;J he mentioned 
the aggravations and the dreadful consequences of his guilt ; 
but described the traitor covertly, and addressed him ob 
scurely, till compelled by Judas s own question to point him 
out publicly. He exhorted his disciples to mutual love with 
a paternal affection.! In consequence of Peter s declared 
self-confidence, he foretold his fall ; but when Peter vehe 
mently repeated his asseveration, our Lord did not repeat 
his prediction. | He instituted a most simple, expressive, 
and useful rite in commemoration of his death; instructed, 
advised, and comforted his disciples with the most unbounded 
affection ; and closed with a solemn act of piety as striking a 
scene as imagination can conceive of lowliness and benignity, 
of prudence and wisdom, of decorum and majesty, of com- 
e and resignation^ 

He then resorted to his accustomed place of retirement, 

* Aristotle thus describes the man of fortitude : oei $O$<UT&OL /jiV, 
imom vfiv 6Y, " Evil* must be feared by him, and yet undergone." Magna 
Mor., p -.60, e<L Du Val. 80 Eth. Nicqm., III. ril 1 : fyofaairai piv 
tniv KOI Td roiavra ott & 5*7, ital e>f \6yos , vjrofKVf i, rov KaXov tvtua, 
" The man of fortitude will fear human evils ; but will undergo them as he 
ought, and as reason prescribes, for the sake of what is becoming and 

* Uft , &c. \ John xiiL 21. S John xiil 34. 
I Matt xxvi. 35. 1 John xriL 


and where he knew that Judas would execute his treason : for 
he knew all things which should befall him.* 

I shall now inquire what were the causes of that agony f 
and deadly sorrow, J of that sore amazement and heavy an 
guish, which seized him on the approach of his sufferings ; 
and which drew from him such intense and persevering sup 
plications that God would avert them. 

I cannot suppose that he was penetrated with a sonse of 
God s indignation at this time. That is the portion of those 

* John xviii. 4. 

t The word dyom a, Luke xxii. 44, has not so strong a sense as the 
corresponding one in our language. It properly signifies the fear which 
men have when they are about to contend with an antagonist ; and in tills 
sense is opposed to great fear. When Hector was on the point of engag 
ing with Ajax, the Trojans feared greatly; but Hector only rjywvia. 
See Dionysius Hal in Clarke s note on II. VII. 216. Aristotle describes 
it to be fear at the beginning of an undertaking : <o/3os TIS vrpos ap\*] v 
epyov. Probl. II. 31, p 691, ed. Du Val. The Stoics denned it to be 
the fear of an uncertain event : <o /3os- aSjjXou Trpdyfiaroy. Diog. Laert. 
Zeno, VII. Sect. 113, p. 435, ed. Amst. 4to. It is twice used by Diodorus 
Siculus for the anxiety of the Egyptians while the Nile was rising, ed. 
Wess., p. 44. And an apposite passage is quoted by Lardncr on the 
Logos, p. 7, from Nic. Damascen. apud Vales, excerpt, p. 841, where all 
are said to be dya>viS>vrf s, and Julius Caesar to be p.f O-TOS dycwias, while 
Octavius s life was in danger from illness. " Per catachresin ponitur pro 
quo vis timore," says H. Stephens in voc. and accordingly in Syr. dywvia 
is rendered by fear, from bm, timuit. See Wetstein in loc. 

J H. Stephens translates the word e j<0a/z/3/o/iat, " Stupore attonito per- 
ccllor, Pavore attonito perterreor." He derives it from 6fj, stupco. It 
denotes wonder; see Mark x. 32; Luke iv. 36 ; v. 9; Acts iii. 10, 11 ; 
ix. 6. It also denotes that fear which often accompanies wonder. Com 
pare Mark xvi. 5, 6, with Luke xxiv. 5, Matt, xxviii. 5. The word 
6a^r](Tfv, H. I. 199, is explained by Didymus, e^o/Si^r/, f&TrXdyrj. 
See Pearson on the Creed, Article Suffered. 

AS^ficoi/, whence aSry/noi/e o) , is derived from aSeco tsedio afficior, pro- 
prie prae defatigatione. *A8os signifies satietas ; dcfatigatio, qua est 
laboris velut satietas. And Eustathius defines d8r)p.<av, " one who fails," 
(animo concidit,) as it were from a satiety of sorrow. O eVc XVTTTJS, o>3 
ofa Kai Tivos Ko pou, (os a8os Xe yerai,) awzTrfTn-coKtos-. See H. Stephens : 
Reimar s Dion Cassius, p. 924, note, 215. Wetstein in loc. Phil. ii. 26. 


only who do evil. A voice from heaven repeatedly pro 
nounced our Lord the beloved Son of God, in whom he was 
well pleased. And he was now about to evidence his obedi 
ence and love to his Father in a most illustrious manner.* 
He was also about to sanctify himself f for the sake of his 
disciples, and of all mankind. And what are his own words ? 
" Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my 
life that I may take it again." j 

Nor was Christ at this time under the immediate power of 
Satan. In the concluding scenes of his life, the evil one 
might be said to " bruise his heel," because he afflicted him 
by his instruments. After the temptation, the Devil is said to 
depart from him " for a season." || If the phrase implies that 
he returned during our Lord s agony and sufferings, what his 
emissaries and imitators did may be attributed to his agency. 
When our Lord said to his apostles, at the paschal supper, 
" the prince of this world cometh " ; f the meaning is, that he 
was coming by those unjust and violent men who resembled 
him. And again, when Jesus said to the Jewish rulers, " this 
is your hour, and the power of darkness " ; ** he meant the 
power of wickedness, of men who hated the light, and came 
not to it lest their deeds should be reproved. But that the 
mind of Christ was now disquieted and harassed by Satan 
himself is a horrid idea, the dictate of gloomy minds, and 
wholly inconsistent with God s goodness to the Son of his 

Nor was he oppressed and overcome by the sense that he 
was to bear the sins of mankind in his own body on the 
tree ; H and to redeem us from the curse of the law, being 
made a curse for us. A foresight of conferring unspeak 
able benefits on the human race would tend to alleviate, and 
not to embitter, the sufferings of the benevolent Jesus : unless 

* John xiv. 31. 

t John xvii. 19 ; Matt. xx. 28 ; xxvi. 28 ; 2 Cor. v. 14. 
J John x. 17. Gen, iii. 15. || Luke iv. 13. 

If John xiv. 30. ** Luke xxii. 53. tt Col. i. 13. 

ft 1 Pet. ii. 24. H Gal. iii. 13. 



at this time he was [judicially] stricken, smitten of God, and 
afflicted ; * an idea which the prophet excludes, and which 
his own sinless rectitude and God s perfect goodness exclude. 
Though God had wise reasons for not restraining those who 
afflicted our Lord, yet he was so far from heightening his 
afflictions above their natural course, that he sent an angel 
from heaven to strengthen him.t Jesus suffered by the 
wickedness of men ; but he was not punished by the hand of 
God. Nor should his death, and the bitter circumstances 
preceding it, be considered as a full compecsation to strict 
justice ; but as God s merciful and gracious method of recon 
ciling man to himself. 

Those divines entertain the most just and rational notions 
who do not think that our Lord s broken and dejected spirit 
was a trial supernaturally induced ; but assign natural causes 
for the feelings which shook his inmost frame. He felt for 
the wickedness and madness of those who persecuted him in 
so unrelenting a manner, notwithstanding his beneficent con 
duct, his laborious and admirable instructions, and the con 
vincing evidences of his divine mission ; for the irresolution, 
timidity, and despondency of his friends, and for the ingrati 
tude, perfidy, and guilt of the wretched and devoted Judas. 
He foresaw the unjust offence which his death on the cross 
would give both to Jews and Gentiles ; the exemplary de 
struction of his country ; the spirit of hatred and persecution 
which would arise against his Church, and even among those 
who were called by his name ; and the unbelief and sins of 
mankind, which exposed them to such a weight of punishment 
here and hereafter. And these and such like painful sensa 
tions and gloomy prospects made the deepest impression at a 

* Isa. liii. 4. 

t Luke xxii. 43. That some omitted this part of the history, see 
Lardner s Cred., Part II. Vol. III. p. 132 ; Hist, of Heretics, 252 ; and Gro- 
tius s note in Ibc., who says : " Illaudabilis fuit et supcrstitio et tcmeritas 
illorum qui hanc particulam et sequenjem de sudore delevere. Christns 
destitutes divinitatis in se habitantis virtute, hummiaique naturae relictus, 
opuw habuit angeloruin solatio." 


time when he had a lively view of the immediate indignities 
and insults, of the disgrace, and horrid pains of death, which 
awaited him during the long and sharp trial of his wisdom 
and goodness.* 

When he came to the place where a follower and friend 
was to betray him, and where the Jews were ignominiously to 
seize and bind him as a malefactor, the scene excited a per 
turbation of mind, and he was depressed by sorrow and an 
guish proportioned to his exquisite sensibility, the conscious 
ness of his wrongs, and his extensive foresight. 

And how did our Lord act under the extreme sorrow 
which overwhelmed him ? He offered up the following pray 
er to his Father : f " My Father, all things which are fit and 
right are possible with thee : if it be possible, if the wise plan 
of thy moral government admit of it, let this bitter and deadly 
cup pass from me : nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou 
wilt. If this cup of pain and tortuie cannot pass from me, 
but that I drink it, thy will be done." J He thrice addressed 
himself to his Father in words of the same import. And 
being in an agony, having the prospect of an excruciating 
death immediately before him, he prayed the more intensely : 
and his body was so affected by the state of his mind, that 
drops exuded from him, the copiousness of which bore resem 
blance to drops of blood. The author of the Epistle to the 

* See most of these causes well enlarged on in Dr. Harwood s Disser 
tation on our Saviour s Agony. 

t Jortin says, after Grotius on Matt. xxvi. 39 : " We must observe that 
our Lord was made like unto us in all things, sin excepted ; and that, 
upon this and other occasions, he experienced in himself what we also 
frequently find within us, two contrary wills, or, to speak more accurate 
ly, a strife between inclination and reason ; in which cases, though rea 
son gets the better of inclination, we may be said to do a thing willingly, 
yet with an unwilling mind." Vol. IV. Serm. III. p. 42. The whole 
discourse should be attended to by those who study this subject. I like 
wise recommend a careful perusal of Lardner s Sermons on our Lord s 

I Matt. xxvi. 39, &c., and parallel places. 

Tots Travel? eWi/ou?, KOI 7rapaTT\rj(riovs aifJuiTos 0po/i/3ois, tdpamxt 
ci8pa-e. Photii ep. 138, p.. 194, ed. Lond. 165) 


Hebrews observes that he " offered up prayers and supplica 
tions to him who was able to save him from death, with a 
strong cry and with tears; and was heard" from the filial 
reverence with which he prayed.* God administered to him 
extraordinary consolation, f But thus far only his supplica 
tions availed. For the cup of death was not removed from him. 

Of this scene our Lord intended to make three of hi* 
apostles witnesses : for he advanced only a small distance 
from them, and the moon was full. But they slept through 
sorrow ; contrary to their Master s commands, ever given for 
the gravest reasons, and which should have been particularly 
obeyed in such circumstances. At the close of it he said, 
The design for which I separated you from my other disciples 
being ended, " sleep on now, and take your rest." J On 
uttering these words, he heard the approach of those who 
came to apprehend him, and immediately added : " It is 
enough : the hour is come : behold, the Son of Man is betrayed 
into the hands of sinners. Rise, let us advance : behold, he 
who betrayeth me is at hand." 

Here some observations are necessary. 

The Captain of our salvation, who was made perfect 
through sufferings, || set a most useful example to his followers 
who were doomed to undergo the same fiery trial. He gave 
them no lesson of a proud and stoical insensibility. The 
natural evils of life he treated as evils ; ^ and a violent 
death by lingering torture, as the greatest natural evil. 

* Heb. v. 7. t Luke xxii. 43. * J Matt. xxvi. 45. 

Mark xiv. 41, 42. The word a7r<- x, which Hesychius explains by 
aTroxprj, eapKei, seems a retracting of what he had just allowed. " But 
enough of sleep." He is represented as speaking to the instant. 

|| Heb. ii 10. 

If With a view to the evils which are thick sown in life, or, perhaps, to 
the persecutions of his followers, he observed, that sufficient unto the day 
was the evil thereof (Matt. vi. 34.) He spoke the language of nature, 
when he called the temporal advantages of riches good things ; and 
Lazarus s pain and poverty, evil things. (Luke xvi. 25.) And, again, 
when he thus foretold Peter s crucifixion, that another should gitd him, 
8Ud cany him whither he would not, (John xxi. IS.) 


He foresaw that some of his disciples would madly court 
persecution.* But he gave no sanction to such enthusiasm 
by his own conduct. He had before taught them to use pru 
dence in avoiding persecution ; f and he now taught them to 
pray against it with perseverance and earnestness, but at the 
same time with the most entire resignation. And this is true 
constancy in a Christian martyr, if he first fervently prays 
against sufferings which every man must abhor, and then 
firmly undergoes them, if it is God s will not to avert them 
from him. It was fit that our Lord s example in this respect 
should be openly proposed to the world ; and I believe that 
every sober and pious Christian, of the greatest constitutional 
fortitude, has publicly or secretly followed it, from the irre 
sistible bent of human nature. J 

Our Lord also taught Christians in all ages, what the 
depravity of the world made it necessary for many to bear in 
mind, that a state of the sharpest sufferings was consistent 
with the favor of God ; and that the most perfect innocence, 
and the brightest prospect of future glory, could not over 
come the natural horror of them. To prevent despair in any, 
he made himself a pattern to the weakest and tenderest of 
mankind. " He sanctified the passion of fear, and hallowed 
natural sadnesses, that we might not think the infelicities of 
our nature and the calamities of our temporal condition to 
become criminal, so long as they make us not to omit a duty. 
He that fears death, and trembles at the approximation of it, 
and yet had rather die again than sin once, hath not sinned 
in his fear : Christ hath hallowed it, and the necessitous con 
dition of his nature is his excuse." || 

I have supposed that our Lord prayed against his death, 
and not against his dejection of mind ; agreeably to his words 
in another place, where his crucifixion must be meant: 

* Lardner s Testimonies, II. 174, 358 ; III. 349, 351. On Heretics, 
p. 238. 

t Matt. x. 23. $ See Luke xviii. 7. 

$ Archbishop Tillotson, Serra. CXXXVI. p. 236, fol 

II Bishop Taylor s Life of Christ, p 488, 



" Shall I not drink of the cup which my Father hath given 
me ? " * I do not else see how the Apostle s words have due 
force ; where he observes that our Lord prayed to him who 
was able to save him from death.~\ I cannot else understand 
St. Matthew s words, " my Father, if this cup may not 
pass from me, unless I drink it, thy will be done " : J which 
must refer to a future cup of suffering, and not to one which 
he had already drunk. Nor do the strong expressions used 
by our Lord admit of the other supposition. He could not 
doubt whether it were possible that God could remove from 
him his discomposure and dismay. 

I say then that our Lord prayed against his death : " My 
Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me." || " Fa 
ther, all things are possible with thee : remove this cup from 
me." ^f " Father, if thou be willing to remove from me this 
cup, well." ** However, he immediately added words to this 
effect : " Nevertheless, not my will, but thine, be done." But 
how could he pray against an event which he himself and so 
many prophets had foretold? Lardner has answered, that, 
notwithstanding predictions, good and evil will influence the 
mind ; and we should perform our duty suitably to our cir 
cumstances. Our Lord, says he, foretold the fall of Peter, 
the treachery of Judas, and the destruction of Jerusalem ; 
and yet used the natural means to prevent them, ft What 
this judicious writer has suggested may be strengthened by 
observing that many of God s commands and predictions, 
though expressed absolutely, appear in the history of his 
providence to have been conditional and revocable. Abra 
ham was commanded to sacrifice his son ; and God recalled 
the command, when he had proved his faith and obedience. JJ 
David besought God for his child with fasting and tears, after 
Nathan had foretold his death : for he said, " Who can tell 
whether God will be gracious unto me, that the child may 

* John xviii. 11. t Heb. v. 7. } Ch. xxvi. 42. 

Matt. xxvi. 39, 42 ; Mark xiv. 35, 36. || Matt. xxvi. 39. 

1T Mark xiv. 36. ** Luke xxii. 42, 

tt Sermons, Vol. TI. p. 70. fj G?n, xxii. 


live ? " * Jonah was sent to prophesy against the inhabitants 
of Nineveh, that their city should be overthrown in forty 
days; and yet God spared them on their humiliation and 
repentance, f God said to Ahab by the Prophet Elijah, 
" Behold, I will bring evil upon thee " : I and yet the sentence 
was remitted in part ; for God afterwards declared that, be 
cause Ahab humbled himself, he would not bring the evil in 
his days ; but in his son s days would he bring the evil on 
his house. And though, in Hezekiah s sickness, God said to 
him by Isaiah, " Give charge concerning thy family ; for thou 
shalt die, and not live " ; yet, in consequence of his fervent 
supplication, God healed him on the third day, and added 
to his life fifteen years. 

But why were not the prayers offered up by our Lord 
effectual ; since he said to Peter very soon afterwards, 
" Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he 
shall give me at hand more than twelve legions of angels ? " || 
I answer, because our Lord prayed with resignation to his 
Father s will, and not absolutely. " None took his life from 
him, but he laid it down of himself. He had power to -lay it 
down, and he had power to take it again." H" He submitted 
to death from a conviction of its fitness. When his anguish 
of mind was allayed, and his commotion natural to man 
subsided, his language was, " Shall I not drink the cup which 
my Father hath given me?"** "How [else] shall the 
Scripture be fulfilled, that thus it must be ? " as if this par 
ticular reason for his death had been recollected by him, or 
had been recalled to his mind ft by the angel who appeared 
to him. H 

But it may be urged that he, who had a glory with the 

* 2 Sam. xii. t Jon. Hi. J 1 Kings xxi. 21, 29. 

2 Kings xx. Here see 1 Sam. xxiii. 12 ; Jer. xviii. 7, 8 ; xxxviii. 17. 

|| Matt, xx vi. 53. 

H John x. 18. ** Matt. xxvi. 54 ; Mark xiv. 49. 

*t See Mark ix. 12 ; Luke xviii. 31 ; Matt. xxvi. 24. 

$$ Luke xxii. 43. 


Father before the world was, * must have known the neces 
sity of that event against which he prayed. 

I answer, that to assert the strict and absolute necessity of 
Christ s death becomes not us who know so little of God s 
unsearchable ways ; f that we do not understand the manner 
in which the divine and human natures were united in Christ, 
and therefore may doubt whether the superior nature did not 
sometimes forsake the inferior, J and withhold its communica 
tions from it ; and that the wise providence of God might so 
order events as they would most benefit the world in a moral 
view, and therefore might exhibit our Lord in such circum 
stances as furnished most instruction and consolation to his 
persecuted followers. 

I now proceed to show our Lord s composure of mind, after 
he had thus strongly expressed the perturbation which had 
been raised in him by his foreknowledge of the many dark 
events which awaited him, and particularly by his abhorrence 
of a violent and excruciating death. 

He went forth to meet the traitor, and the officers sent to 
apprehend him ; he discovered himself to them ; || and 
when God had struck them with such a miraculous awe that 

* John xvii. 5. 

t See Ben Mordecai, Letter VI. 85, p. 748, c., 8vo. 

J See Ben Mordecai, VI. 89. " As to the objection that the weakness 
of the flesh was absorbed in the divinity, it may just as safely be asserted 
that the power of the divinity was absorbed in the flesh : for as to the 
consequence of the conjunction of the angel of the covenant with the 
flesh in which he was incarnate ; or in what degree the temptations of 
Christ might affect him ; that is, how easy or how difficult it might be 
for Christ to resist them ; I presume we arc entirely ignorant : and have 
no right to argue from our ignorance against the fact itself." And Gro- 
tius and Tillotson say that the Divine Wisdom communicated itself to 
Christ s human soul according to his pleasure, and as circumstances re 
quired. Grot, on Mark xiii. 32. Tillotson, Vol. IX. p. 273. Bcza also 
says, "Imo et ipsa tfeo r^Tos plcnitudo sese, prout et quatcnus ipsi libuit, 
humanitati assumptae insinuavit." On Luke ii. 52. These three last 
authorities are quoted by Mr. Farmer on the Temptation, p. 130. See 
Mark iii. 9 ; Luke ix. 52 ; Mark xi. 13 ; xiii. 32 ; Matt. xxiv. 20, 

$ John xviii. 4. j| John xviii. 5. 


they fell on the ground,* and had thus demonstrated Jesus s 
power of restraining their violence, our Lord made them 
this wise and benevolent request, " If ye seek me, let these 
[my attendants] depart." f He mildly addressed the perfidi 
ous Judas : J he was so collected as instantly to perceive the 
necessity of working a miracle to prevent the ill consequences 
of Peter s affectionate but rash violence ; and he forewarned 
that apostle, and all mankind, that drawing the sword in the 
cause of his religion would involve the good and bad, the 
persecuted" and persecutor, in undistinguished destruction : || 
he declared his readiness to fulfil the Scriptures by his 
death : ^[ he meekly expostulated with the people for their 
violent and disgraceful manner of apprehending him : ** while 
he stood before Caiaphas, he showed a composed attention to 
Peter s irresolution and timidity,! f and penetrated him with a 
sense of them by the majesty of his eye : at the same time, 
he replied with the most exemplary self-command to the 
officer who struck him for answering the high-priest, in a 
manner full of reason and dignity : JJ before Caiaphas, and 
the whole council of the chief priests, elders, and scribes, he 
entered into no vindication of himself, no explanation of his 
perverted expressions, against the false witnesses suborned to 
accuse him : but when adjured by the living God to say 
whether he was the Christ, the Son of the blessed God, he 
answered, I am ; though he knew that they would impute it 
to him as blasphemy, a crime which by the law of Moses 
was punishable with death. |||| 

Fortitude under actual sufferings, is patience ; and sub 
mission to them because they are the will of God, is resigna 

How did Jesus act, when those who beheld him spat in his 

* John xviii. 6. t John xviii. 8. 

J Matt. xxvi. 50 ; Luke xxii. 48. Luke xxii. 51. 

II Matt. xxvi. 52. IT Matt. xxvi. 54. ** Matt xxvi. 55. 

tt Luke xxii. 61. ft John xviii. 23. $ Matt, xxvi 62. 

Ill) Lev. xxiv. 16. 


face ; * when they blindfolded him, and smote him on the 
face with the palms of their hands, or struck him with their 
staves ; when they derided his prophetic spirit and Messiah- 
ship in this taunting language, Prophesy who is he that smote 
thee ? Under all these circumstances of indignity, " he 
opened not his mouth, like a lamb led to the slaughter." f 

When he stood before Pilate, he astonished him by not 
seeking to avert death in the usual way of defending himself 
against the accusations of his enemies : J and as before the 
Jewish high-priest and council he acknowledged himself to be 
the Christ, the Son of God, which had the appearance of 
blasphemy ; so before the Roman governor he confessed that 
he was a king, which had the appearance of sedition. 

Before Herod he conducted himself with the same majesty, 
the same patient endurance of wrongs, and the same resolu 
tion to decline the means of self-preservation which became 
his peculiar circumstances. || He refused to gratify the idle 
curiosity of the tetrarch by working a miracle, and to give 
that account of his life and ministry which might have been 
credited on the authority of others : for which Herod and his 
soldiers treated him with contempt and scorn, and sent him 
back to Pilate arrayed in a gorgeous robe, in derision of his 
claim as a king. 

When our Lord was again brought before Pilate, a robber 
and a murderer ^[ was preferred to him by that very multitude 

* Matt. xxvi. 67, 68, and parallel places. What a very strong mark 
of contempt spitting on a person is accounted in the East, see in Bishop 
Lowth on Isaiah 1. 6. Demosthenes closes the aggravating circumstances 
of a striker in this manner, orav Kov8v\ois, orav eVi Kopprjs, when with 
the hand, when on the cheek : he adds, these circumstances Kivel KOI (gioTrjo-i, 
move and transport with rage ; and in the same oration he observes, OVK 
tort ro)V Trdvrcov ovftev vfipeus d<popr)TOTfpov, of all things there is noth 
ing more intolerable than petulant and insolent injury. In Midian. So 
Quinct. Lib. VI. c. 1 : "Plurimum aflfert atrocitatis modus, si contumeliose 
ut Demosthenes ex parte percussi corporis invidiam Midise quasrit." 

t Isa. liii 7. J Matt, xxvii 13, 14. 

$ John xviii. 37. || Luke xxiii. 8-11. 

T Matt, xxvii. 20, and parallel places. 


who had heard his divine instructions, and seen, or perhaps 
experienced, his beneficial power : * nor did even this vile 
indignity extort from the meek Jesus a word of expostula 

Then Pilate commanded that Jesus should be scourged ; f 
after which severe and ignominious punishment the whole 
band of the Roman soldiers made him their sport, crowned 
him with thorns, clothed him in purple, delivered him a mock- 
sceptre, paid him mock-adoration, addressed him with mock- 
titles of royalty, spat on him, and smote him on the head. 

The sight of Jesus, thus derided and afflicted, did not satiate 
the fury of his enemies ; but after they had afforded him a 
further opportunity of displaying his dignity, and resolution 
to meet death, by giving no answer to Pilate s question, 
" Whence art thou ? " J they extorted the condemnation of 
him from his worldly-minded judge by their loud and artful 

Then was Jesus led away to be crucified : his cross, or part 
of it, was laid on him, as the manner was ; and he bare it till 
his exhausted strength sunk under it : " and two others also, 
who were malefactors, were led with him to be put to death." || 
On the way, a great multitude of women bewailed and la 
mented him : but he turned about to them, and, with a heart 
full of commiseration, bade them deplore their own impending 
sufferings, and not his; declaring at the same time, but in 
figurative and covert language, that, if the innocent suffered 


* Josephus, speaking of the Pharisees, says, Toa-avrrjv 8e exovai TTJV 
Trapa r<5 7rA^$et, a>s KCU Kara /3a<TiAe o>s TI Ae yoirey, KCU /caret 
, fvdvs Trio-Tcveo-dai Ant. 13. 10. 5, quoted by Harwood 
on John ii. 24. " They have so much power with the people, that, even if 
they allege anything against the king or high-priest, they are immediately 

t John xix. 1-3, and parallel places. } John xix. 9. 

We may account for Pilate s conduct from his knowledge of Tibe- 
rius s extreme jealousy and cruelty. 

II So Luke xxiii. 32 should be translated and pointed. " Sed oblitua 
sum Lucse xxiii. 32 in Kaxovpyoi utrinque hypostigmen notare," says H. 
Stephens, in his curious preface to his Greek Testament, 12mo, 1576. 


such calamities, much greater would befall those whose crimes 
made them ripe for destruction : " If they do these things in 
the green tree, what shall be done in the dry." * 

When he came to the place of crucifixion, he was offered 
wine mingled with myrrh, which was designed to blunt the 
sense of pain by inducing a state of stupefaction : but he 
received it not : he declined this office of humanity, that he 
might show himself unappalled by the horrors of instant 
crucifixion ; and that he might fully possess his reason, and 
thus display the virtues suitable to his high character in the 
season of so severe a trial. 

A title, deriding his royal descent and dignity, was placed 
on the cross to which he was fixed. He was crucified be 
tween two malefactors; and, probably while the nails were 
piercing his hands and feet, when the sense and feeling of his 
ignominious sufferings were strongest, he thus prayed and 
pleaded for his murderers : " Father, forgive them ; for they 
know not what they do." f 

In this situation, which might have excited the pity of the 
most unfeeling spectator, and of the bitterest enemy, J our 
Lord was reviled and mocked, his power was questioned, his 
prophecies perverted, and his dignity blasphemed, by the 
Jewish people, by the Roman soldiers, and by the chief 
priests, scribes, and elders ; the rulers mixing themselves with 
the throng, to feast their eyes with his sufferings, and to insult 
him under them. 

But such conduct served enly to display the greatness of 
the sufferer. The patience of Jesus remained unmoved. Here, 
as when he stood before his judges, he left his life and doc 
trine, his prophecies and miracles, the supernatural knowledge 
displayed by him, and the voices from heaven which bare him 

* Luke xxiii. 27 - 31 . t Luke xxiii. 34. 

J Qe apa 8* r\v 
Toiovrov olov nal (TTvyovvr eVoiK-rurai. 

(Ed. Tyr. 1319. 

" Such a sight 
Might raise compassion in an enemy." 


witness, to speak for him a stronger language than words 
could convey. As Origen observes,* his silence, under all 
the indignities and reproaches which he met with, showed 
more fortitude and patience than anything said by the Greeks 
under their sufferings. 

And again, when one of the malefactors reproached him, 
he answered him not : but when the other said, " Lord, re 
member me when thou comest into thy kingdom," f he thus 
acknowledged himself to be a king, arid one who had the keys 
of heaven and hell : { " Verily I say unto thee, to-day shalt 
thou be with me in paradise " ; in the state of those who are 
separated, as in a garden of delight, for God s acceptance. 

It is a remarkable instance of our Lord s composure, that, 
in the midst of his exquisite pains, he recommended his 
mother to that most benevolent Apostle, St. John. 

The next circumstance in the order of events is, that about 
the ninth hour our Lord cried with a loud voice, " My God ! 
my God ! why hast thou forsaken me ? " As the words in 
the original Psalm || do not import a dereliction of the Deity, 
they cannot be thus understood when used by our Lord. In 
this strong language the Psalmist described imminent distress 
and danger ^ from the sword ** of scornful ff and mighty 
enemies. }J He did not mean that he was totally forsaken by 
Jehovah, whom he afterwards entreated not to be far from 
him, whom he called his strength, |||| whom he characterized 
as not hiding his face from the afflicted, ^ and to whom he 
promised praise and thanksgiving in return for the mercies 
which he implored.*** In the same terms our Lord expressed 
the greatness of his anguish ; when, in the prophetic words 
of the Psalm, which is sometimes applicable to David and 
sometimes to the Messiah, "he was poured out like water, 
his bones were separated from each other, his heart was like 

* Lib. VII. $ 54 - 56, pp. 368, 369. Lardner s Test. II. 317. 
\ Luko xxiii. 42. J Rev. i. 18. Matt, xxvii. 46. 

D Psalm xxii. ^ Ibid., 11. ** Ibid., 20. 

ft Ibid., 7, 8. If Ibid., 12, 13, 21. H H> d-, H, 19, 

D Ibid., 19. TC Ibid., 24. *** Ibid., 25. 



wax, it was melted within him." * Our Lord s language, I 
eay, was dictated by extreme suffering, and not by distrust. 
In the style of the Hebrew Scriptures,f when God permitted 
individuals or nations to be oppressed and afflicted, he was 
said to hide his face from them, to forget, reject, or forsake 
them. Our Lord could not suppose that God had cast him 
off, because immediately before and after these words he 
reposed an entire confidence in him. During his crucifixion 
he twice called God his Father, J he declared his assurance 
that he should enter into a state of happiness, and accord 
ingly he resigned his departing spirit into his Father s hands. || 
He likewise saw, during the space of three hours before he 
expired, that God miraculously interposed in his behalf, by 
diminishing the light of the sun and shedding a comparative 
darkness over the whole land, or, at least, that part of it 
which was adjacent to Jerusalem. When Jesus had thus 
poured forth his sorrows, in the words of a sacred hymn 
which foretold many circumstances of his death, God, who 
had, as it were, hidden his face from him for a moment, had 
mercy on him with everlasting kindness, ^[ and speedily closed 
the scene of his sufferings. For, immediately after this, 
" Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that 
the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst." ** This thirst 
was the natural consequence of his pains, and of that effusion 
of blood which was occasioned by piercing his hands and his 
feet. But, unless it had remained that the prophecy ft -of the 
Psalmist should receive its full completion, JJ it was a circum 
stance on which he would have observed a majestic silence : 
such was his command over himself, and so attentive was he 

* Psalm xxii. 14. 

t See Job xx. 19 ; Psalm xxxvii. 25 ; xxxviii. 10, 21, 22 ; xlii. 9 ; 
xliii. 2 ; Ixxi. 11, 12, 18 ; Isa. xlix. 14 ; liv. 7, 8. 

J Luke xxiii. 34, 46. Ibid., 43. fl Ibid., 46. 

t Isa. liv. 7, 8. ** John xix. 28. 

tt See Lardner s Test., II. 303, 24, where Origen objects that Jesus 
was unable patiently to endure thirst. 

ft See Psalm Ixix. 21 ; Matt xxvii. 34. 


that not one jot or tittle of the prophets should pass away. 
a JCow there was set a vessel full of vinegar," * the mean 
drink of the Roman soldiers ; and one of the by-standers filled 
a sponge with vinegar, and placed it upon a bunch of hyssop, 
and by means of a reed advanced it to his mouth. " When 
Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is fin 
ished": f the prophecies concerning me, antecedently to my 
death, have had their accomplishment: I have finished my 
laborious and painful course : I have thus far performed thy 
will, God. Immediately after this, he expired with words 
expressive of a perfect reliance on God, and a firm persuasion 
of his acceptance : " Father, into thy hands I commend my 
spirit." { 

Thus did our Lord appear as great in his sufferings as in 
his actions, in his death as in his life ; and thus did he exhibit 
a wonderful example of forgiveness and composure, of mag 
nanimity and conscious dignity, of filial love and pious resig 
nation, in the midst of the most horrid tortures that human 
nature is capable of sustaining. 

* John xix. 29, and parallel places. 

t John xix. 30. J Lake xxiii. 46, 




TTTE doctrine of the Atonement stands in the same relation 
to the doctrine of righteousness by faith, as the object in the 
language of philosophy to the subject, Either is incomplete 
without the other, yet they admit also of being considered 
separately. When we pierce the veil of flesh, and ask the 
meaning of the bleeding form on Mount Calvary, a voice 
answers, " The atonement once made for the sins of men." 
It seems like the form of any other dying man, but a mystery 
is contained in it. We penetrate deeper into the meaning of 
the word " atonement," and new relations disclose themselves 
between God and man. There is more than we see in that 
outward fact, more than we can understand in that mysterious 
word, " The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sins of the 
world." " God in Christ reconciling the world to himself, 
and not imputing their trespasses unto them." 

Yet how can this be, consistently with the truth and holi 
ness of God ? Can he see us other than we really are ? Can 
he impute to us what we never did ? Would he have pun 
ished us for what was not our own fault ? It is not the pride 
rf human reason which suggests these questions, but the 

* From his Commentary on St. Paul s Epistles, &c. 


moral sense which he himself has implanted in the breast of 
each one of us. Here is a lesson of comfort and also of per 
plexity ; Jesus Christ is a corner-stone and a stumbling-block 
at once. We can hardly receive the consolation without seek 
ing to remove the perplexity. Our faith would shake if taken 
off the foundations of truth and right. The feeble brain of 
man reaches but a little way into the counsels of the Most 
High : " My thoughts are not as your thoughts, neither are 
your ways my ways," saith the Lord. But no difference be 
tween God and man can be a reason for regarding God as less 
just or less true than the being whom he has made. He is 
only incomprehensible to us because he is infinitely more so. 

It might seem at first sight no hard matter to prove that 
God was just and true. It might seem as if the suggestion 
of the opposite needed no other answer than the exclamation 
of the Apostle, " God forbid ! for how shall God judge the 
world ? " But the perplexities of the doctrine of the Atone 
ment are the growth of above a thousand years ; rooted in 
language, disguised in figures of speech, fortified by logic, 
they seem almost to have become a part of the human mind 
itself. Those who first spoke of satisfaction were unconscious 
of its inconsistency with the Divine attributes, just as many 
good men are in our own day ; they do not think of it, or 
they keep their minds off it. And one cannot but fear 
whether it be still possible so to teach Christ as not to cast a 
shadow on the holiness and truth of God ; whether the wheat 
and the tares have not grown so long together, that their hus 
bandman, in pulling up the one, may be plucking up the 
other also. Erroneous as are many modes of expression 
used on this subject, there are minds to whom they have 
become inseparable from the truth itself. 

The doctrine of the Atonement, as commonly understood, is 
the doctrine of the sacrifice or satisfaction of Christ for the 
sins of men. There are two kinds of language in which it 
is stated: the first figurative, derived from the Old Testa 
ment ; the second logical, and based chiefly on distinctions of 
the schoolmen. According to the first mode of expression, 


the atonement of Christ is regarded as a sacrifice, which 
stands in the same relation to the world in general as the 
Jewish sacrifices did to the individuals who offered them. 
Mankind were under a curse, and he redeemed them, just as 
the blood of bulls or of goats redeemed the first-born de 
voted to God. That was the true sacrifice once offered on 
Mount Calvary for the sins of men ; of which all other sacri 
fices, since the beginning of the world, are types and shadows, 
and can never take away sin. Wherever the words blood, or 
sprinkling, or atonement, or offering, occur in the Old Testa 
ment, these truly refer to Christ ; wherever uncleanness, or 
impurity, or ceremonial defilement are spoken of, these truly 
refer to the sins of men. And, as nearly all these things 
are purged with blood, so the sins of mankind are purged, 
and covered, and veiled in the blood of Christ. 

To state this view of the doctrine at length, is but to 
translate the New Testament into the language of the Old. 
Where the mind is predisposed to receive it, there is scarcely 
a law, or custom, or rite of purification, or offering, in the 
Old Testament, which may not be transferred to the Gospel. 
Christ is not only the sacrificial lamb, but the paschal " lamb 
without spot," the seal of whose blood makes the wrath of 
God to pass over the people ; he is Isaac on the altar, and 
also the ram caught in the thicket, upon whom is laid the 
iniquity of man. Neither need we confine ourselves to this 
circle of images. Mankind are slaves, and Christ ransoms 
them: he is the new Lord, who has condescended to buy 
them, who pays the price for them, which price is his blood. 
He is devoted and accursed for them ; he pays the penalty 
for their sins ; he washes them in his blood ; he hides them 
from the sight of God. All that they are, he is ; all that he 
is, they become. 

Upon this figurative or typical statement of the doctrine of 
the Atonement is raised a further logical one. A new frame 
work is furnished by philosophy, as the types of the Old 
Testament fade and become distant; figures of speech acquire 
a sort of coherence when built up ic* logical statements, 


they at length cease to be figurative, and are repeated as 
simple facts. Rhetoric becomes logic, as the age becomes 
logical rather than rhetorical ; and arguments and reasonings 
take the place of sermons and apologies. 

The logical view of the doctrine of the Atonement com 
mences with the idea of a satisfaction to be made for the sins 
of men. God is alienated from man ; man in like manner is 
alienated from God. The fault of a single man involves his 
whole posterity. God is holy, and they are sinful ; there is 
no middle term by which they can be connected. Mankind 
are miserable sinners, the best of whose thoughts are but evil 
continually ; who have a corrupt nature which can never lead 
to good. They are not only sinners, but guilty before God, 
and in due course, in the order of Providence, to suffer pun 
ishment for their sins. Their present life is one continued 
sin ; their future life is one awful punishment. They were 
free to choose at first, and they chose death, and God does 
but leave them to the natural consequences. 

Were we to stop here, every honest and good heart would 
break in upon these sophistries, and dash in pieces the pre 
tended freedom and the imputed sin of mankind, as well as 
the pretended justification of the Divine attributes, in the 
statement that man necessarily or naturally brought everlast 
ing punishment on himself. No slave s mind was ever re 
duced so low as to justify the most disproportionate severity 
inflicted on himself; neither has God so made his creatures 
that they will lie down and die, even beneath the hand of him 
who gave them life. But although God, it is said, might in 
justice have stopped here, there is another side of this doc 
trine which must be viewed as inseparable from it, and was 
known from the beginning ; namely, that God intended to 
send his only begotten Son for the redemption of mankind. 
God was always willing that mankind should be saved. But 
it was just that they should suffer the penalty. He could not 
save them, if he would. He felt like a judge who pitied the 
criminal, but could not " in foro wmscientias " acquit him. 
Man was fearful of his doom, and God willing to save ; but 


the least particle of the Divine justice must not be impeached ; 
the sentence must be exacted to the uttermost farthing. 

At this point is introduced the sacrifice of Christ. The 
Son takes human nature upon him, and dies once for all. 
The Father, before angry, and alienated, and averse to man, 
is reconciled to him through the Son. His justice is satisfied 
in Christ ; his mercy is also shown in Christ. The impossi 
bility has become possible ; the necessity, in the nature of 
things, for the condemnation of man, has been done away. 
Nor can it be urged that the offences are the sins of many ; 
the satisfaction is only of one. For the satisfaction is of 
itself infinite, sufficient not for this world only, but for many 
more ; yea, if it please God so to extend it, for the universe 
itself, and all things that are, have been, or shall be in it. 

And this scheme, as already remarked, must not be con 
sidered in part only, but as a whole. When God create*] 
man, " sufficient to have stood, though free to fall," he fore 
saw also his fall, redemption, and sanctification in a single 
indivisible instant. Therefore we should thankfully accept 
the whole scheme, and not stop to reason on a part. He who 
condemned us is the same as he who redeemed us through 
Christ. There was one way of death leading onward to 
eternal punishment ; there was another way of life leading 
to salvation, which God, to our infinite gain and his own loss, 
was pleased to take. Neither can we doubt, if we may say 
so reverently, that God himself was under a sort of constraint 
to take this way, and no other, for the salvation of mankind. 
Had it been otherwise, he would have surely spared his only 
Son. The chasm in the moral government of the world could 
only be filled up by the satisfaction of Christ for the sins of 
all mankind. 

Thus far the parts of the logical structure are "fitly 
joined together " ; but the main question is yet untouched : 
" In what did this satisfaction consist ? " Was it that God 
was angry, and needed to be propitiated like some heathen 
deity of old ? Such a thought refutes itself by the very in 
dignation which it calls up in the human bosom. Or that, $$ 


he looked upon the face of his Christ," pity gradually took 
the place of wrath, and, like some conqueror, he was willing 
to include in the reversal of the sentence, not only the hero, 
but all those who were named after his name ? Human feel 
ings again revolt at the idea of attributing to the God in 
whom we live and move and have our being, the momentary 
clemency of a tyrant, Or was it that there was a debt due to 
him, which must be paid ere its consequences could be done 
away ? But even " a man s " debt may be freely forgiven, 
nor could the after payment change our sense of the offend 
er s wrong : we are arguing about what is moral and spiritual 
from what is legal, or, more strictly, from a shadow and fig 
ment of law. Or that there were some " impossibilities in 
the nature of things," which prevented God from doing other 
than he did ? Thus we introduce a moral principle superior 
to God, just as in the Grecian mythology fate and necessity 
are superior to Jupiter. But we have not so learned the 
Divine nature, believing that God, if he transcend our ideas 
of morality, can yet never be in any degree contrary to them. 
Or, again, if we take a different line of explanation, it may 
be urged that the atonement is not a satisfaction of Divine 
justice, but only a " quasi satisfaction," or rather an exhibition 
of Divine justice in the eyes of mankind and of the angels. 
Something of this kind may be supported (according to one 
interpretation of the passage) by the words of the third 
chapter of Romans, " To show forth, I say, at this time his 
righteousness on account of the non-observance of sins that 


are past " ; where the reason given for the manifestation of 
Christ seems to be the justification of the ways of God to 
men. According to this view, it is regarded as shocking, that 
God himself should have needed any atonement or satisfa 
tion. But yet it would seem as if God s horror of sin were 
not sufficiently marked, that man, to use a homely pliras 
was let off too easily, unless there were some great and 
open manifestation that God was really on the side of truth 
and of right. To demonstrate this was the object of the 
death of Christ. It was a reality in one sense, that is, so far 


as the sufferings were real ; an appearance in another, as its 
true import related to mankind and the world, and not to 

If this scheme avoids the difficulty of offering an unworthy 
satisfaction to God, and so doing violence to his attributes, we 
can scarcely free it from the equal difficulty of interposing a 
painful fiction between God and man. Was the spectacle 
real which was presented before God and the angels on 
Mount Calvary ? If we say no, then we can neither trust 
our eyes or ears, nor the promises of God, nor the words of 
Scripture. If the greatest fact of the wlnle is an illusion, 
why not all else ? That the chief figure ui the scene is the 
Son of God, only makes the illusion the more impossible. Or 
if we say that it was all real, and yet that its great object was 
an exhibition to men and angels, to what a wonderful strait- 
ness do we reduce Divine power, which can only show forth 
its justice by allowing men to commit in itself the greatest of 
human crimes, that redeems the sin of Adam by the murder 
of Christ! This second theory has no advantage over the 
preceding, except that which the more shadowy statement 
must ever have, in rendering difficulties themselves more 
shadowy. It avoids the physical illusion of the old heretics, 
and introduces a moral illusion of a worse kind. 

For if \\e substitute for "satisfaction" "demonstration or 
exhibition ol Divine justice," we are not better off than in the 
previous attempt to explain "satisfaction." How could the 
sufferings of a good or Divine man exhibit the righteousness 
of God ? Rather they would seem to indicate his indifference 
to those sufferings in permitting them ; in not giving his Son 
" ten legions of angels " to overcome his enemies. Is it to 
the Roman soldiers, or to the Jews, or to the disciples, that 
this exhibition is supposed to have a meaning; or to the 
world afterwards, who, in the sufferings of Christ, are ex 
pected to see for all time the indignation of God against sin ? 
AVhen the doctrine is stated, it betrays itself. For how could 
there be an exhibition of Divine justice which was known to 
be a fiction ; which, if it were true and real, would be horrible 


and revolting ; which n<*t only exhibits the sins of the guilty 
laid upon the innocent, but alleviates human feelings by assur 
ing us that they are laid upon that innocent Being, not as the 
payment of a penalty or satisfaction of the Divine nature, but 
as the demonstration of Divine justice ? The doctrine thus 
stated is the surface or shadow of the preceding, with the sub 
stance or foundation cut away. It removes one difficulty, 
and, in removing, it raises up a number of others. 

Whether, then, we employ the term u sacrifice," or " satis 
faction or exhibition of Divine justice," the moment we pierce 
beneath the meaning of the words, theological criticism seems 
to detect something which is irreconcilable with the truth and 
holiness of God. Gladly, if it were possible, we would rest 
in the thing signified, and know only " Jesus Christ, and him 
crucified." But, in the present day, we can no longer receive 
the kingdom of God as little children. The speculations of 
theologians have insensibly taken possession . of the world ; 
the abstractions of a thousand years since have become the 
household words of our own age ; and before we can build 
up, we have also to clear away. 

"We are trespassing on holy ground. There will be many 
who say, It is good to adore in silence a mystery that we can 
never understand. But there are " idols of the temple," as 
well as idols of the market-place. These idols consist in 
human reasonings and definitions which are erected into arti 
cles of faith. We are willing to adore in silence, but not the 
inventions of man. The controversialist naturally thinks, that, 
in assailing the doctrine of satisfaction as inconsistent with 
truth and morality, we are fighting not with himself, but with 
God. True reverence proceeds by a different path ; it is 
careful to separate the human from the Divine; figures of 
speech from realities ; the history of a doctrine from its truth ; 
the formulas of schoolmen and theologians from the hope of 
the believer in life and death : it is fearful, above all other 
things, lest it cast the faintest shadow of a cloud on that 
which is the central light of all religion the justice and 
truth of God, 


In all ages of the world, and in every country where Chris 
tianity is preached, the Old Testament has ever been taking 
the place of the New, the Law of the Gospel, the outward 
and temporal of the spiritual and eternal. Even where there 
has been no sensible image to which mankind might bow, they 
have filled up the desire of their eyes by imagining an out 
ward form (of doctrine it may be) instead of resting in higher 
and unseen objects of faith. Ideas must be given through 
something ; those of a new religion ever clothe themselves in 
the old. The mind itself readily falls back on the " weak 
and beggarly elements" of sense and imagination. To be 
told that Christ performed the greatest act that was ever done 
in this world, does not seem so much as to be told that he was 
the sacrifice for the sins of men. All history combines to 
strengthen the illusion ; the institution of sacrifice is regarded 
as part of a Divine design in the education of the world. 
We cease any more to inquire how far the blood of bulls or 
of goats can be a real or adequate representation of the rela 
tion in which Christ stood to his Father and mankind. We 
delight to think of the religions of all nations bearing witness 
" to him that was to come." 

It must be remembered that the Apostles were Jews ; they 
were so before their conversion ; they remained so afterwards 
in their thoughts and language ; they could not lay aside their 
first nature, or divest themselves at once of Jewish modes of 
expression. Sacrifice and atonement were leading ideas of 
the Jewish dispensation ; without shedding of blood, there wa* 
no remission. In thinking of the death of Christ and the 
fulfilment of which he spoke, it was natural to them to think 
of him as a " sacrifice " and " atonement " for sin. To him 
bear all the prophets witness, as well as the types of the law 
and the history of the Jewish people. All their life long they 
had been sacrificing and living in the commandments cf the 
Law blameless. What a striking view must it have been 
to their mind?, that their rites and ceremonies were not in 
vain, but only done in ignorance of their true design and 
import ; not that they were nothing, but that there was more 


in them than the chief priests and Pharisees could even con 
ceive ! And the very deadness of them as practised by the 
Jews in general, and the entire passing away of their original 
meaning, would greatly assist their new application. There 
was something in the sacrifices that they could not compre 
hend, as they truly felt that there was in the death of Christ 
also far more than they could understand, and they interpreted 
the one by the other. And when once the thought was sug 
gested to men s minds, at every opening of the book of the 
Old Testament a new light fell upon the page : the history of 
Abraham, the settlement in the promised land, the least de 
tails of the Temple and the Tabernacle, were written for their 

It is in the Epistle to the Hebrews that the reflection of 
the New Testament in the Old is most distinctly brought 
before us. There the temple, the priest, the sacrifices, the 
altar, the persons, of Jewish history are the figures of Christ 
and the Church. In the Epistles of St. Paul it is the rarity 
rather than the frequency of such images which is striking. 
It is the opposition and not the identification of the Law and 
the Gospel which is the leading thought of his mind. I>ut in 
the Epistle to the Hebrews they are fused in one ; the New 
Testament is hidden in the Old, the Old revealed in the New. 
And from this source, and not from the Epistles of St. Paul, 
the language of which we are speaking has passed into the 
theology of modern times. While few persons, comparatively 
speaking, have ever understood the relation of the Law and 
faith in the Epistles to the Romans and Galatians, the lan 
guage of the Epistle to the Hebrews is familiar to all. 

We cannot avoid asking ourselves the question, how far 
these notions of sacrifice or atonement can have the same 
moaning for us that they had for the first believers. We 
may use the words correctly ; every one may imagine them 
selves to understand them; but are we not mistaking our 
familiarity with the sound for a realization of the thing signi 
fied ? The Apostles lived amid the temple sacrifices ; the 
smoke of their offerings, even in the city of Jerusalem under 


its Roman governor, as of old in the wilderness, still went up 
before the Lord ; the carcasses of dead animals strewed the 
courts of the temple. It would be a sight scarcely tolerable 
to us ; neither, if at the present moment we could witness it 
in remote parts of the world, could we bear to think of what 
we saw as typical of the Gospel. Nor, indeed, do we think 
of what we are saying when we speak of Christ offered for 
the sins of men ; the image is softened by distance, and has 
lost its original associations. We repeat it as a sacred word, 
hallowed by the usage of Scripture, and ennobled by its 
metaphorical application. The death of Christ is not a sacri 
fice in the Levitical sense ; but what we mean by the word 
sacrifice, is the death of Christ. 

The notion of sacrifice gained a new foundation in the 
after history of the Church and the world. More and more, 
as the Christian Church became a kingdom and a hierarchy, 
did it see the likeness of itself in the history of the Jewish 
people. The temple which had been pulled down was again 
built up; the spirit of the old dispensation revived in the 
new ; there was a priest as well as a sacrifice ; a Church 
without which there was no salvation, as much separated from 
the world as the Jews from the heathen of old. What was a 
shadow to St. Paul was becoming a reality to the Nicene, and 
had actually become one to the Mediaeval, Church. The 
body and blood of Christ was not only received spiritually in 
the celebration of the Lord s Supper, but literally offered 
again and again in the sacrifice of the Mass, SB formerly by 
the Jewish, so now by the Christian priest. A priesthood 
and a sacrifice naturally implied each other. As Christ in a 
figure bore the person of the high-priest entering once into 
the holy place, so the priest in turn bore the person of Christ 
And after the notion of the priesthood passed away in the 
Reformed Churches, that of the atonement and sacrifice, 
which during so many centuries had been supported by it, 
was still retained, because it seemed to rest on a Scriptural 
fourv lation. The " antithesis " of the Reformation was not 
between the Gospel as without sacrifices, and Romanism aa 


retaining sacrifices, or between the law as having a mediator, 
and the promise as a more " open way " ; but between the 
Gospel as having one mediator, and a sacrifice once offered, 
and the Roman Church with many priests, and the ever 
recurring sacrifice of the Mass. 

An additional support for the doctrine of a sacrifice or 
satisfaction is found in the heathen sacrifices, which, like the 
Jewish, are viewed only by the light of their Christian fulfil 
ment. All the religions of the world, it has been said, agree, 
in enjoining sacrifices. They seem to conspire together in 
bearing witness to Him that was to come. Can we account 
for this common witness, except upon the supposition of a 
primeval revelation ? Certainly, it may be argued that we 
cannot affirm the Divine origin and the typical meaning of 
the Jewish sacrifices, without admitting the same with respect 
to heathen sacrifices also. That could hardly be a sign Di 
vinely appointed for the Jewish people, which, in almost every 
nation under heaven, the light of human reason discovered 
for itself. Was it, then, a Divine revelation to both or nei 
ther ? If we say, to both, we are compelled to admit, in 
reference to the heathen world, that the farther we trace 
backward the indications of old language or of mythology, the 
slighter are the vestiges of a promised revelation. We can 
not, therefore, assume one in the particular instance of the 
institution of sacrifices. If we say, to neither, we seem to 
reduce the Jewish dispensation to the level of the heathen ; 
it is "the first of the Ethnic religions," as Goethe said, 
" but still Ethnic." We may escape from this alternative by 
pointing out the superior morality of the Old Testament ; 
its revelation of the true God ; its anticipation of truths 
utterly unknown to other nations in the age of the world in 
which the Law was given: still we cannot help admitting 
a connection of some kind between the heathen and Jewish 
custom of sacrifices. 

But not to pursue the alternative here suggested, we may 
go on to ask the further question, " What was the inward 
among the heathen of that outward rite which they 


termed sacrifice ? " Did they, as a modern writer has ex 
pressed it, intend to imply, by this act of sacrificing an ani 
mal, that they acknowledged the claim of a superior power 
over their own life? Did they mean to say, "As 1 now 
devote to tlice this victim, O Apollo, Juno, Jupiter, so do I 
acknowledge myself justly devoted to thee " ? They meant 
(1.) that the gods, who were like men, should feast like men; 
this is the prevailing character of the sacrifices in Homer 
They meant (2.) in the East something unintelligible to us, 
but closely connected with the deification of animal life ; from 
the blood of the animal a power seemed to flow forth upon 
the earth, which by a sort of magic communicated itself to 
the offerer. They meant (3.) to supply a want, and, in later 
times, to perform an ancient rite, which still subsisted, though 
the meaning of it had long passed away ; if, indeed, it could 
have been said to express anything except the vague and un 
defined awe of the first sons of men towards the mysterious 
beings by whom they were surrounded. They meant (4.) 
the abolition of ceremonial pollution, the purification of guilt 
like that of the Alcmasonida3 in a panic-stricken nation. 
They meant to do an act, which varied with the character of 
the people or the state of religion, cheerful or sad, of obli 
gation or free will ; differing in Greece and the East, and to 
the Greek in the age of Pericles and in that of Homer, 
which might be nothing more than Fetichism, which might 
comprehend also the devotion of the Decii. They meant, 
however, nothing which throws any light on the mystery of 
the death of Christ. Human sacrifices, which are in outward 
act the nearest, are in spirit the farthest removed from it. 

Heathen and Jewish sacrifices rather show us what the 
sacrifice was not, than what it was. They are the dim, 
vague, rude, (may we not say ?) almost barbarous expression 
of that want in human nature which has received satisfaction 
hi Him only. Men are afraid of something; they wish to 
give away something ; they feel themselves bound by some 
thing ; the fear is done away, the gift offered, the obligation 
fulfilled, in Christ. Such fears and desire? can no more oc- 



cupy their souls ; they are free to lead a better life ; they are 
at the end of the old world, and at the beginning of a new 

Nature and Scripture and the still small voice of Christian 
feeling give a simpler and a truer explanation of the doctrine 
of the atonement than theories of satisfaction or the history 
of sacrifice, an explanation that does not shift with the 
metaphysical schools of the age, which is for the heart rather 
the head. Nature bids us look at the misery of the whole 
creation groaning and travailing together until now ; Christian 
feeling requires only that we should cast all upon Christ, 
whose work the Scripture sets forth under many different 
figures, lest we should rest in one only. This variety is an 
indication of the simplicity with which we are to learn Christ. 
The Jewish sacrifices had many meanings and associations. 
Nor are these the only types under which the Mediator of the 
new covenant is set forth to us in Scripture. He is the sin- 
offering, and the paschal lamb, and the priest, and the temple, 
all in one. Out of all these, why are we to select one to be 
the foundation of our theological edifice ? As figures, we 
may still use them. But the writings of the Apostle supply 
another kind of language which is not figurative, and which 
underlies them all ; which is far more really present and 
lively to us than the conception of a sacrifice, and which 
remains within the limits of our spiritual consciousness, in 
stead of passing beyond them. That is the spirit of which 
the other is the letter ; the substance of which it is the form 
and shadow. 

I. Everywhere St. Paul speaks of the Christian as one 
with Christ. This union with him is a union, not in his death 
merely, but in all the stages of his existence ; living with 
him, suffering with him, dying with him, crucified with him, 
buried with him, rising again with him, renewed in his image, 
glorified together with him, these are the expressions by 
which this union is denoted. There is enough here for faith 
to feed on, without sullying the mirror of God s justice or 
overclouding his truth : peace and consolation enough without 


raising a suspicion which secretly destroys peace. It is a 
great thing to set Christ always before us as an example ; 
and lie who does so is not far from the kingdom of heaven. 
But that of which the Apostle speaks is not merely the 
example of Christ, but communion with him ; the indwelling 
of Christ in our hearts, the conscious recognition that he is 
the will and the power within us to do rightly. 

II. But we need also to pass out of ourselves, and find 
an assurance which is independent of the liveliness or in 
tensity of our own consciousness. We wish to know that 
when we close our eyes the light is there ; that when the 
grave covers us, there is a God to whom we still live. That 
assurance is given us by the life and death of Christ. That 
perfect harmony of nature, that absolute self-renunciation, 
that pure love, that entire resignation, continued through 
life and ending in death, are facts, independent of our feel 
ings, which remain as they were, whether we acknowledge 
them or not. Not the sacrifice, nor the satisfaction, nor the 
ransom, but the greatest moral act ever done in this world, 
the act, too, of one in our likeness, is the assurance to 
us that God in Christ is reconciled to the world. 

III. It is a true and Christian feeling, that, after we have 
done ail, we are unprofitable servants. Even the best of us 
well know that the less we think of our own lives the better. 
Our actions will not bear taking to pieces, the garment 
of self is a ragged and tattered patchwork. If an eminent 
servant of God could rise from the grave and read the narra 
tive of his own life, written by another, he would feel pain 
at the recital of his virtues. " Not unto us, O Lord ! not 
unto us, but unto thy name be the praise." And yet this 
most true sense of man s unprofitableness is accompanied 
also by an unshaken confidence in the mercy of God. No 
account can be given of this confidence, which is quite un 
like the confidence we feel in the honesty, or good faith, or 
character of one of our fellow-men. There are rules for 
judging of this too ; but they are different in kind from those 
by which we judge, or ought to judge, of ourselves in rela- 


tion to God. He who has this confidence finds the reasons 
of it desert him the moment lie begins to consider them. He 
is two persons in one, hoping against hope, if so be that God 
will be merciful ; and all the time not the less assured of his 
mercy. Philosophy, rather than faith, going beyond this 
double consciousness, seeks by a theory of satisfaction to 
harmonize the discordant elements. " God is alienated in 
himself, but reconciled in Christ ; man is evil in himself, but 
holy in Christ." Such statements are neither philosophy nor 
faith ; they do but afford a transient resting-place to the mind, 
which is satisfied with an answer to its peculiar difficulty, 
however narrowing it may be to its view of " the ways of 
God to man." 

IV. There is more in the life and death of Christ than we 
pretend to fathom. Definite statements respecting the rela 
tion of Christ either to God or man are but human figures 
transferred to a subject which is beyond speech and thought 
There may seem to be a kind of feebleness in falling back on 
mystery, when the traditional language of ages is so clear and 
explicit. But mystery is the nearest approach that we can 
make to the truth : only by indefiniteness cart we avoid put 
ting words in the place of things. We know nothing of the 
objective act on God s part, by which he reconciled the world 
to himself, the very description of it as an act being only a 
figure of speech ; and we seem to know that we never can 
know anything. While clinging to the ground of fact, we 
feel also that there is more in that fact than we see or under 
stand. This is not a ground of fear, but of hope, not of 
uncertainty, but of peace. There is hope and peace in what 
we see : yet more as we believe in possibilities of which we 
are ignorant. 

We can live and die in the language of St. Paul and St. 
John, without fear for ourselves or dishonor to the name of 
Christ. We need not change a word that they use, or add on 
a single consequence to their statement of the truth. There 
is nothing there repugnant to our moral sense. There are 
others to whom tradition and devotional use may have made 


another kind of language familiar, who employ it by a sort 
of happy inconsistency, without perceiving the contradiction 
which it involves to the attributes of God. Neither let them 
condemn us, neither let us condemn them. There is enough 
in what has been said, and in the very nature of the subject 
itself, to make us tolerant of each other. It is a natural, 
though hardly excusable weakness, to clothe with peculiar 
awe and sacredness that which is really of human invention ; 
to be zealous in defence of those points which we instinc 
tively know to be least capable of standing the test of theo 
logical criticism. 



No doctrine in later times has been looked at so exclu 
sively through the glass of controversy as that of justification. 
From being the simplest it has become the most difficult ; the 
language of the heart has lost itself in a logical tangle. Dif 
ferences have been drawn out as far as possible, and then 
taken back and reconciled. The extreme of one view has 
produced a reaction in favor of the other. Many senses have 
been attributed to the same words, and simple statements 
carried out on both sides into endless conclusions. New for 
mulas of conciliation have been put in the place of old- 
established phrases, and have soon died away, because they 
had no root in language or in the common sense or feeling of 
mankind. The difficulty of the subject has been increased by 
the different degrees of importance attached to it : while to 
some it is an articulus stantis aut cadentis ecclesia, others 
have never been able to see in it more than a verbal dis 

The abstract as well as controversial form of the doctrine 
of righteousness by faith has arisen out of the circumstances 
of the age in which it seemed to revive. Men felt at the 
Reformation the need of a spiritual religion, and could no 
longer endure the yoke which had been put upon their fathers. 
The heart turned inwards upon itself to commune alone with 
God. But when the need was supplied, and those who had 


felt it could no longer remain in the stillness of the closet, but 
formed themselves into a Church and an army, going forth to 
war against principalities and powers and the wisdom of this 
world, they found no natural expression of their belief; they 
had to borrow the weapons of their enemies before they could 
take up a position and fortify their camp. 

In other words, the Scholastic Logic had been for six cen 
turies previous the great instrument of training the human 
mind ; it had grown up with it, and become a part of it. 
Neither would it have been more possible for the Reformers 
to have laid it aside than to have laid aside the use of lan 
guage itself. Around theology it lingers still, seeming reluc 
tant to quit a territory which is peculiarly its own. No 
science has hitherto fallen so completely under its power ; 
no other is equally unwilling to ask the meaning of terms ; 
none has been so fertile in reasonings and consequences. 
The change of which Lord Bacon was the herald, has hardly 
yet reached it ; much less could the Reformation have antici 
pated the New Pliilosophy. 

The whole mental structure of that time rendered it neces 
sary that the Reformers, no less than their opponents, should 
resort to the scholastic methods of argument. The difference 
between the two parties did not lie here. Perhaps it may be 
said with truth that the Reformers were even more schoolmen 
than their opponents, because they dealt more with abstract 
ideas, and were more concentrated on a single topic. The 
whole of Luther s teaching was summed up in a single arti 
cle, " Justification by Faith." That was to him the Scriptural 
expression of a Spiritual religion. But this, according to the 
manner of that time, could not be left in the simple language 
of St. Paul, but needed to be guarded by the strictest defi 
nitions first, and was then liable to be drawn out into endless 

And yet, why was this ? "Why not repeat, with a slight 
alteration of the words rather than the meaning of the Apos 
tle, Neither justification by faith nor justification by works, 
but * a new creature " ? Was there not yet " a more excel- 


lent way "to oppose things to words, the life, and spirit, 
and freedom of the Gospel, to the deadness, and powerless- 
ness, and slavery of the Roman Church? So it seems 
natural to us to reason, looking back after an interval of three 
centuries on the weary struggle ; so absorbing to those who 
took part in it once, so distant now either to us or them. But 
so it could not be. The temper of the times, and the educa 
tion of the Reformers themselves, made it necessary that one 
dogmatic system should be met by another. The scholastic 
divinity had become a charmed circle, and no man could 
venture out of it, though he might oppose or respond with 
in it. 

And thus justification by faith, and justification by works, 
became the watchwords of two parties. We may imagine 
ourselves at that point in the controversy when the Pelagian 
dispute had been long since hushed, and that respecting Pre 
destination had not yet begun ; when men were not differing 
about original sin, and had not begun to differ about the 
Divine decrees. What Luther sought for was to find a for 
mula which expressed most fully the entire, unreserved, im 
mediate dependence of the believer on Christ, What the Cath* 
olic sought for was so to modify this formula as not to throw 
dishonor on the Church by making religion a merely personal 
or individual matter ; or on the lives of holy men of old, who 
had wrought out their salvation by asceticism ; or endanger 
morality by appearing to undervalue good works. It was 
agreed by all, that men are saved through Christ ; not of 
themselves, but of the grace of God, was equally agreed 
since the condemnation of Pelagius ; that faith and works 
imply each other, was not disputed by either. A narrow 
space is left for the combat, which has to be carried on within 
the outworks of an earlier creed, in which, nevertheless, the 
greatest subtlety of human thought and the greatest differ 
ences of human character admit of being displayed. 

On this narrow ground the first question that naturally 
arises is, how faith is to be defined. Is it to include love and 
holiness, or to be separated from them ? If the former, it 


Beems to lose its apprehensive, dependent nature, and to be 
scarcely distinguishable from works ; if the latter, there is a 
logical subtlety in the statement, which, although made by 
Luther, could scarcely be retained even by his immediate 
followers, much less by the common sense of mankind. 
Again, is it an act or a state ? are we to figure it as a point, 
or as a line ? Is the whole of our spiritual life anticipated hi 
the beginning, or may faith no less than works, justification 
equally with sanctification, be conceived of as going on to 
perfection? Is justification in God or man an objective act 
of Divine mercy, or a subjective state of which the believer 
is conscious in himself? Is the righteousness imparted by it 
imputed or inherent, an attribute of the merits of Christ, or 
a renewal of the human heart itself? What is the test of 
a true faith ? And is it possible for those who are possessed 
of it to fall away ? How can we exclude the doctrine of 
human merit consistently with Divine justice ? How do we 
account for the fact that some have this faith, while others 
are destitute of it, and this apparently independent of their 
moral state ? If faith comes by grace, is it imparted to few 
or to all? And in what relation does the whole doctrine 
stand to Predestinarianism on the one hand, and to the Cath 
olic or Sacramental theory on the other ? 

Such are a few of the most obvious questions to which this 
controversy has given birth. To which some obsolete differ 
ences of an earlier date might be added ; such as the theory 
of congruity and condignity, in which an attempt was made 
to transfer the analogy of Christianity to heathenism, and to 
look upon the doer of good works before justification as a 
shadow of the perfected believer. Neither must we omit to 
observe that, as the doctrine of justification by faith had a 
close connection with the Pelagian controversy, carrying the 
decision of the Church a step farther, in not only making 
Divine Grace the source of human action, but in requiring 
the consciousness of it as well in the believer himself: so also 
it put forth its roots in another direction, attaching itself to AJI- 
selm as well as Augustine, and comprehending the idea of satis- 


faction ; not now, as formerly, of Christ offered in the sacrifice 
of the mass, but of one sacrifice, once offered for the -sins of 
men, whether considered as an expiation by suffering, or im 
plying only a reconciliation between God and man, or a mere 
manifestation of the righteousness of God. 

Such is the whole question, striking deep, and spreading 
far and wide with its offshoots. It is not our intention to 
enter on the investigation of all these subjects, many of which 
belong to the history of the Church, but have no real bearing 
on the interpretation of St. Paul s Epistles, and a compara 
tively slight one- on our own life and practice. Our inquiry 
will embrace two heads : (1.) What did St. Paul mean by 
the expression " righteousness of faith," in that age ere con 
troversies about his meaning arose ; and (2.) What do we 
mean by it, now that such controversies have died away, and 
the interest in them is retained only by the theological stu 
dent, and the Church and the world are changed, and there is 
no more question of Jew or Gentile, circumcision or uncir- 
cumcision, and we do not become Christians, but are so from 
our birth. Many volumes are not required to explain the 
meaning of the Apostle ; nor can the words of eternal life 
be other than few and simple to ourselves. 

There is one interpretation of the Epistles of St. Paul 
which is necessarily in son\e degree false ; that is, the inter 
pretation put upon them by later controversy. It seems to 
be legitimately derived from the text ; and it is really intro 
duced into it. Our minds are filled with a particular circle 
of ideas, and we catch at any stray verse and make it the 
centre of our previous ideas. The Scripture is never looked 
upon as a whole, but broken into fragments, and each frag 
ment made the corner of a new spiritual edifice. Words 
seem to be the same, but the things signified by them are 
different. Luther and St. Paul use the same term, " justified 
by faith " ; and the strength of the Reformer s words is the 
authority of St. Paul. Yet, observe how far this agreement 
is one of words : how far of things. For Luther is speaking 
solely cf ind ; < iduals, St. Paul also of nations ; Luther of faith 


absolutely, St. Paul of faith as relative to the law. With St, 
Paul faith is the symbol of the universality of the Gospel. 
Luther entirely excludes this or any analogous point of view. 
In St. Paul there is no opposition of faith and love ; nor does 
he further determine righteousness by faith as meaning a faith 
in the blood or even in the death of Christ ; nor does he sup 
pose consciousness or assurance in the person justified. But 
all these are prominent features of the Lutheran doctrine. 
Once more ; the faith of St. Paul has referei,: to the evil of 
the world of sight ; which was soon to vanish away, that the 
world in which faith walks might be revealed ; but no such 
allusion is implied in the language of the Reformer. Lastly ; 
the change in the use of the substantive "righteousness" to 
"justification" is of itself the indication of a wide difference 
between St. Paul and Luther ; and not without significance, 
as showing the direction which this difference has taken. 

These contrasts make us feel that St. Paul can only be 
interpreted by himself, and not from the writings even of one 
who had so much in common with him as Luther, much less 
from the treatises of theologians of a later date. It is the 
spirit of St. Paul which Luther represents, not the meaning 
of his words ; nor is there wanting a link of human feeling 
which makes them kin. Without bringing down one to the 
level of the other, we can imagine St. Paul returning that 
singular affection, almost like an attachment, to a living friend, 
which the great Reformer felt towards the Apostle. But this 
degree of personal attachment or resemblance in no way 
lessens the necessary difference between the preaching of 
Luther and of St. Paul, which lay partly in their individual 
character, but chiefly in the different circumstances and modes 
of thought of their respective ages. At the Reformation we 
are at another stage of the human mind, in which system and 
logic and the abstractions of Aristotle seem to have a kind 
of necessary force, when words have so completely taken the 
place of things, that the minutest distinctions appear to have 
an intrinsic value. 

It has been said (and the remark admits of a peculiar 


application to theology) that few persons know sufficient of 
things to be able to say whether disputes are merely verbal 
or not. Yet, on the other hand, it must be admitted that, 
whatever accidental advantage theology may derive from 
system and definition, mere accurate statements can never 
form the substance of our belief. No one doubts that Chris 
tianity could be in the fullest sense taught to a child or a 
savage, without any mention of justification or satisfaction or 
predestination. "Why should we not receive the Gospel as 
little children ? Why adopt abstractions which are so subtle 
in their meaning as to be in the greatest danger in their 
translation from one language to another ? which are always 
running into consequences inconsistent with our moral nature, 
and the knowledge of God derived from it ? which are not 
the prevailing usage of Scripture, but technical terms which 
we have gathered from one or two passages, and made the 
key-notes of our scale ? JThe words satisfaction and predesti 
nation nowhere occur in Scripture ; the word regeneration 
only twice, and but once in a sense at all similar to that which 
it bears among ourselves ; the word justification twice only, 
and nowhere as a purely abstract term. 

But although language and logic have so transfigured the 
meaning of Scripture, we cannot venture to say that all theo 
logical controversies are questions of words. If from their 
winding mazes we seek to retrace our steps, we still find 
differences which have a deep foundation in the opposite 
tendencies of the human mind, and the corresponding division 
of the world itself. That men of one temper of mind adopt 
one expression rather than another, may be partly an acci 
dent ; but the adoption of an expression by persons of marked 
character makes the difference of words a reality also. That 
can scarcely be thought a matter of words which cut in 
sunder the Church, which overthrew princes, which made the 
line of demarcation between Jewish and Gentile Christians 
in the Apostolic age, and is so, in another sense, between 
Protestant and Catholic at the present day. And in a deeper 
way of reflectior than this, it H* turn from the Church to the 



individual, we seem to see around us opposite natures ana 
characters, whose lives really exhibit a difference correspond 
ing to that of which we are speaking. The one incline to 
morality, the other to religion; the one to the sacramental, 
the other to the spiritual ; the one to multiplicity in outward 
ordinances, the other to simplicity ; the one consider chiefly 
the means, the other the end ; the one desire to dwell upon 
doctrinal statements, the other need only the name of Christ ; 
the one turn to ascetic practices, to lead a good life, and to do 
good to others, the other to faith, humility, and dependence on 
God. We may sometimes find the opposite attributes com 
bine with each other (there have ever been cross divisions on 
this article of belief in the Christian world ; the great body 
of the Reformed Churches, and a small minority of Roman 
Catholics before the Reformation, being on the one side ; and 
the whole Roman Catholic Church since the Reformation and 
a section of the Protestant Episcopalians, and some lesser 
communions, on the other) ; still, in general, the first of these 
characters answers to that doctrine which the Roman Church 
sums up in the formula of justification by works ; the latter 
is that temper of mind which finds its natural dogmatic ex 
pression in the words " We are justified by faith." 

These latter words have been carried out of their former 
circle of ideas into a new one by the doctrines of the Refor 
mation. They have become hardened, stiffened, sharpened, 
by the exigencies of controversy, and torn from what may 
be termed their context in the Apostolical age. To that age 
we must return ere we can think in the Apostle s language. 
Kis conception of faith, although simpler than our own, has 
nevertheless a peculiar relation to his own day ; it is at once 
wider, and also narrower, than the use of the word among 
ourselves, wider in that it is the symbol of the admission 
of the Gentiles into the Church, but narrower also hi that it 
is the negative of the law. Faith is the proper technical 
term which excludes the law;. being what the law is not, as 
the law is what faith is not. No middle term connects the 
two, or at least none which the Apostle admits, until lie has 


first widened the breach between them to the uttermost. 
He does not say, " Was not Abraham our father justified by 
works (as well as by faith), when he had offered up Isaac 
his son on the altar ? " but only, " What saith .the Scripture ? 
Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for right 

The Jewish conception of righteousness was the fulfilment 
of the Commandments. He who walked in all the precepts 
of the Law blameless, like Daniel in the Old Testament, or 
Joseph and Nathanael in the New, was righteous before God. 
" What shall I do to inherit eternal life ? Thou knowest the 
Commandments. Do not commit adultery, do not steal, do 
not bear false witness. All these have I kept from my youth 
up." Such is a picture of Jewish righteousness as it presents 
itself in its most favorable light. But it was a righteousness 
which comprehended the observance of ceremonial details as 
well as moral duties ; it might be nothing more than an obe 
dience to the Law as such, losing itself on the surface of 
religion, in distinctions about meats and drinks, or forms of 
oaths, or purifications, without any attempt to make clean 
that which is within. It might also pierce inward to the divid 
ing asunder of the soul. Then was heard the voice of con- 


science crying, " All these things cannot make the doers 
thereof perfect," When every external obligation was ful 
filled, the internal began. Actions must include thoughts 
and intentions, the Seventh Commandment extend to the 
adultery of the heart ; in one word, the Law must become 
a spirit. 

But to the mind of St. Paul the spirit presented itself, not 
so much as a higher fulfilment of the Law, but as antago 
nistic to it. From this point of view, it appeared, not that 
man could never fulfil the law perfectly, but that he could 
never fulfil it at all. What God required was something 
different in kind from legal obedience. What man needed 
was a return to God and nature. He was burdened, strait 
ened, shut out from the presence of his Father, a servant, 
not a son; to whom, in a spiritual sense, the heaven was 


become as iron, and the earth brass. The new righteousness 
must raise him above the burden of ordinances, and bring 
him into a living communion with God. It must be within, 
and not without him, written, not on tables of stone, but on 
fleshly tables of the heart. But inward righteousness was no 
peculiar privilege of the Israelites ; it belonged to all man 
kind. And the revelation of it, as it satisfied the need of 
the individual soul, vindicated also the ways of God to man ; 
it showed God to be equal in justice and mercy to all man 

As the symbol of this inward righteousness, St. Paul found 
an expression already in use among the Jews, righteous 
ness by faith, derived from those passages in the Old Testa 
ment which spoke of Abraham being justified by faith. The 
very idea of faith carried men into the unseen world, out 
of the reach of ordinances, beyond the evil of this present 
life ; it revealed to them that world which was now hidden 
but was soon to appear. The Jewish nation were too far out 
of the way to be saved as a nation : the Lord was at hand 
As at the last hour, when we have to teach men rather how 
to die than how to live, the Apostle could only say to those 
who would receive it, "Believe; all things are possible to 
him that believes." 

Such are some of the peculiar aspects of the Apostle s 
doctrine of "righteousness by faith. To our own minds it has 
become a later stage or a particular form of the more general 
doctrine of salvation through Christ, of the grace of God to 
man, or of the still more general truth of spiritual religion. 
It is the connecting link by which we appropriate these to 
ourselves, the hand which we put out to apprehend the 
mercy of God. It was not so to the Apostle. To him grace 
and faith and the Spirit are not parts of a doctrinal system, 
but different expressions of the same truth. " Beginning in 
the Spirit " is another way of saying " Being justified by 
faith." He uses them indiscriminately, and therefore we 
cannot suppose that he could have laid any stress on distinc 
tions between them. Even the apparently precise antithesis 


of the prepositions lv 8ia varies in different passages. Only 
in reference to the law, faith, rather than grace, is the more 
correct and natural expression. It was Christ, or not Christ ; 
the Spirit, or not the Spirit ; faith and the law, that were the 
dividing principles; not Christ through faith as opposed to 
Christ through works ; or the Spirit as communicated through 
grace, to the Spirit as independent of grace. 

Illusive as are the distinctions of later controversies as 
guides to the interpretation of Scripture, there is another 
help, of which we can hardly avail ourselves too much, the 
interpretation of fact. To read the mind of the Apostle we 
must read also the state of the world and the Church by 
which he was surrounded. Now, there are two great facts 
which correspond to the doctrine of righteousness by faith, 
which is also the doctrine of the universality of the Gospel : 
first, the vision which the Apostle saw on the way to Damas 
cus ; secondly, the actual conversion of the Gentiles by the 
preaching of the Apostle. Righteousness by faith, admission 
of the Gentiles, even the rejection and restoration of the 
Jews, are himself under so many different points of view. 
The way by which God had led him was the way also by 
which he was leading other men. When he preached right 
eousness by faith, his conscience also bore him witness that 
this was the manner in which he had himself passed from 
darkness to light, from the burden of ordinances to the power 
of an endless life. In proclaiming the salvation of the Gen 
tiles, he was interpreting the world as it was ; their admission 
into the Church had already taken place before the eyes of 
all mankind ; it was a purpose of God that was actually ful 
filled, not waiting for some future revelation. Just as when 
doubts are raised respecting his Apostleship, he cut them 
short by the fact that he was an Apostle, and did the work of 
an Apostle ; so, in adjusting the relations of Jew and Gen 
tile, and justifying the ways of God, the facts, read aright, 
are the basis of the doctrine which he teaches. All that he 
further shows is, that these facts were in accordance with the 
Old Testament, with the words of the prophets, and the deal* 


ings of God with the Jewish people. And the Apostles at 
Jerusalem, equally wilh himself, admitted the success of his 
mission as an evidence of its truth. 

But the faith which St. Paul preached was not merely the 
evidence of things not seen, in which the Gentiles also had 
part, nor only the reflection of " the violence " of the world 
around him, which was taking the kingdom of heaven by 
force. The true source, the hidden life, to which justification 
attaches, is Christ. It is true that we nowhere find in the 
Epistles the expression "justification by Christ" exactly in 
the sense of modern theology. But, on the other hand, we 
are described as dead with Christ, we live with him, we are 
members of his body, we follow him in all the stages of his 
being. All this is another way of expressing " We are jus 
tified by faith." That which takes us out of ourselves and 
links us with Christ, which anticipates in an instant the rest 
of life, which is the door of e\ery heavenly and spiritual 
relation, presenting us through a glass with the image ot 
Christ crucified, is faith. The difference between our own 
mode of thought and that of the Apostle is only this, that to 
him Christ is set forth more as in a picture, and less through 
the medium of ideas or figures of speech ; and that while we 
conceive the Saviour more naturally as an object of faith, to 
St. Paul he is rather the indwelling power of life which is 
fashioned in him, the marks of whose body he bears, the 
measure of whose sufferings he fills up. 

When in the Gospel it is said, " Believe on the Lord Jesus 
Christ, and thou shalt be saved," this is substantially the same 
truth as " We are justified by faith." Yet we may note two 
points of difference, as well as two of resemblance, in the 
manner in which the doctrine is set forth in the Gospel as 
compared with the manner of the Epistles of St. Paul. First, 
in the omission of any connection between the doctrine of 
faith in Christ and the admission of the Gentiles. The 
Saviour is within the borders of Israel; and accordingly little 
is said of the " sheep not of this fold," or the other husband 
men who shall take possession of the vineyard, Secondly, 


there is in the words of Christ no antagonism or opposition to 
the Law, except so far as the Law itself represented an im 
perfect or defective morality, or the perversions of the Law 
had become inconsistent with every moral principle. Two 
points of resemblance have also to be remarked between the 
faith of the Gospels and of the Epistles. In the first place, 
both are accompanied by forgiveness of sins. As our Sav 
iour to the disciple who affirms his belief says, " Thy sins be 
forgiven thee " ; so St. Paul, when seeking to describe, in the 
language of the Old Testament, he state of justification by 
faith, cites the words of David, "Blessed is the man to whom 
the Lord will not impute sin." Secondly, they have both a 
kind of absoluteness which raises them above earthly things. 
There is a sort of omnipotence attributed to faith, of which 
the believer is made a partaker. " Whoso hath faith as a 
grain of mustard-seed, and should say unto this mountain, Be 
thou removed and be thou cast into the sea, it shall be done 
unto him," is the language of our Lord. " I can do all things 
through Christ that strengtheneth me," are the words of St. 

Faith, in the language of the Apostle, is almost synony 
mous with freedom. That quality in us which in reference to 
God and Christ is faith, in reference to ourselves and our 
fellow-men is Christian liberty. " With this freedom Christ 
has made us free " ; " where the spirit of the Lord is, there 
is liberty." It is the image also of the communion of the 
world to come. " The Jerusalem that is above is free," and 
" the creature is waiting to be delivered into the glorious 
liberty of the children of God." It applies to the Church as 
now no longer confined in the prison-house of the Jewish 
dispensation ; to the grace of God, which is given irrespec 
tively to all ; to the individual, the power of whose will is 
now loosed ; to the Gospel, as freedom from the Law, setting 
the conscience at rest about questions of meats and drinks, 
and new moons and Sabbaths ; and, above all, to the freedom 
from the sense of sin. The law of the spirit of life is also 
the law of freedom. 


In modern language assurance has been deemed necessary 
to the definition of a true faith. There is a sense also in 
which final assurance entered into the conception of the faith 
of the Epistles. Looking at men from without, it was possi 
ble for them to fall away finally ; it was possible also to fall 
without falling away ; as St. John says, there is a sin unto 
death, and there is a sin not unto death. But looking inwards 
into their hearts and consciences, their salvation was not a 
matter of probability ; they knew whom they had believed, 
and were confident that He who had begun the good work in 
them would continue it unto the end. All calculations re 
specting the future were to them lost in the fact that they were 
already saved, 01 o-cofo/zei/oi and ol o-co^ao /zei/oi indifferently. 
To use a homely expression, they had no time to inquire, 
whether the state to which they are called was permanent 
and final. The same intense faith which separated them from 
the world, and all things in it, had already given them a part 
in the world to come. They had not to win the crown, it 
was already won : this life, when they thought of themselves 
in relation to Christ, was the next ; as their union with him 
seemed far more true and real than the mere accidents of 
their temporal existence. 

A few words will briefly recapitulate the doctrine of right 
eousness by faith as gathered from the Epistles of St. Paul. 

Faith, then, according to the Apostle, is the spiritual prin 
ciple whereby we go out of ourselves to hold communion with 
God and Christ; not like the faith of the Epistle to the 
Hebrews, clothing itself in the shadows of the Law ; but 
opposed to the Law, and- of a nature purely moral and spirit 
ual. It frees man from the flesh, the Law, the world, and 
from himself also ; that is, from his sinful nature, which is the 
meeting of these three elements in his spiritual consciousness. 
And to be "justified "is to pass into a new state ; such as 
that of the Christian world when compared with the Jewish 
or Pagan such as that which St. Paul had himself felt at 
the momem of his conversion ; such as that which he reminds 
the Galatian converts they had experienced, " before whose 


eyes Jesus Christ was evidently set forth crucified"; an 
inward or subjective state, to which the outward or objective 
act of calling, on God s part, through the preaching of the 
Apostle, corresponded ; which, considered on a wider scale, 
was the acceptance of the Gentiles and of every one who 
feared God ; corresponding in like manner to the eternal 
purpose of God ; indicated in the case of the individual by 
his own inward assurance ; in the case of the world at large, 
testified by the fact ; accompanied in the first by the sense of 
peace and forgiveness, and implying to mankind generally 
the last final principle of the Divine government, "God 
concluded all under sin that he might have mercy upon all." 
We acknowledge that there is a difference between the 
meaning of justification by faith to St. Paul and to ourselves. 
Eighteen hundred years cannot have passed away, leaving 
the world and the mind of man, or the use of language, the 
same as it was. But while acknowledging this difference, our 
object is not to base some new doctrine upon our natural in 
stincts, or to rear some fabric of philosophical speculation, 
framed in the same terms, yet different in meaning and spirit. 
Christianity is not a philosophy, but a life ; and religious 
ideas, unless designed to destroy the simplicity of religion, 
must be simple and practical. The true use of philosophy in 
reference to religion is to restore its simplicity, by freeing it 
from those perplexities which the love of system or past 
philosophies, or the imperfection of language, or the mere 
lapse of ages, may have introduced into it. To understand 
St. Paul we found it necessary to get rid of the scholastic 
definitions and deductions, which might be described as a sort 
of mazy undergrowth of some noble forest, which must be 
cleared away ere we can wander in its ranges. Neither is it 
less necessary for ourselves to return to the plain letter of 
Scripture, and seek a truth to live and die in ; not to be the 
subject of verbal disputes, which entangle the religious sense 
in scholastic perplexities. Whatever logical necessity there 
may be supposed to be in drawing out Christianity as a bys- 
tem, whether as food for the intellect, or as a defence against 


heresy, the words of eternal life will ever be few and simple, 
" Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved." 

Once more, then, we return to Scripture ; .not to explain it 
away, but to translate it into the language of our own hearts, 
and to separate its accidents from its essence. Looking at it 
as a rule of life and faith for ourselves, no less than for the 
early Church, we must not leave out of sight the great diffei 
ences by which we are distinguished from those for whom it 
was first written. The greatest difference of all is, that the 
words of life and inspiration as they were to them are to us 
words of fixed and conventional meaning ; they no longer 
express feelings of the heart, but ideas of the head. Nor is 
the difference less between the state of the world then and 
now, not only of the outward world in which we live, but of 
that inner world in which we ourselves are. The Law is 
indeed dead to us, and we to the Law, and yet the whole 
language of St. Paul is relative to what has not only passed 
away, but has left no trace of itself in the thoughts of men. 
The perpetual variations and transitions of meaning in the 
use of the word Law, which have been enlarged upon else 
where, tend also to a corresponding variation in the meaning 
of faith. We are not looking for the immediate coming of 
Christ, and do not anticipate, therefore, in a single generation, 
the whole course of the world, or the history of a life, in the 
moment of baptism or conversion. To us this life and the 
next have each their fixed boundary, time and eternity, 
as we call them, which it would appear mysticism to do 
away. Last of all, we are partakers of this world, and not 
wholly living in the world to come ; which makes it difficult 
for us to imagine the intensity of meaning in such expressions 
as " dead with Christ," " if ye then be risen with Christ." 

The neglect of these essential differences between ourselves 
and the fir-t disciples has sometimes led to a distortion ot 
doctrine and a perversion of life, in the attempt to reproduce 
exactly the scriptural image ; where words have had nothing 
to correspond to them, views of human nature have been 
invented to suit the language of St. Paul; thus, for example, 


the notion of legal righteousness is indeed a fiction as applied 
to our own times. Nor, in truth, is the pride of human 
nature, or the tendency to rebel against the will of God, or to 
attach an undue value to good works, better founded. Men 
are evil in all sorts of ways : they deceive themselves and 
others ; they walk by the opinion of others, and not by faith ; 
they give way to their passions ; they are imperious and 
oppressive to one another. But if we look closely, we per 
ceive that most of their sins are not consciously against God ; 
the pride of rank, or wealth, or power, or intellect, may show 
itself towards their brethren, but no man is proud towards 
God. No man does wrong for the sake of rebelling against 
God. The evil is not, that men are bound under a curse by 
the ever-present consciousness of sin, but that sins pass un 
heeded by ; not that they wantonly offend God, but that they 
know him not. So, again, there may be a false sense of 
security towards God, as is sometimes observed on a death 
bed, when mere physical weakness seems to incline the mind 
to patience and resignation ; yet this more often manifests 
itself in a mistaken faith, than in a reliance on good works. 
Or, to take another instance, we are often surprised at the 
extent to which men who are not professors of religion seem 
to practise Christian virtues ; yet their state, however we 
may regard it, has nothing in common with legal or self- 

Leaving, then, the scholastic definitions, as well as the 
peculiar and relative aspect of the Pauline doctrine, we have 
again to ask ourselves the meaning of justification by faith. 
We may divide the subject, first, as it may be considered in 
the abstract; and, secondly, as consciously appropriated to 

I. Our justification may be regarded as an act on God s 
part. It may be said that this act is continuous, and com 
mensurate with our whole lives; that although "known unto 
G;>d are all his works from the beginning," yet that, speaking 
as men, and translating what we term the acts of God into 
human language, we are ever being more and more justified, 


as in theological writers we are admitted to be more and 
more sanctified. At first sight it seems that to deny this 
involves us in a fiction and absurdity ; that is, it is a kind of 
fiction to say that we are justified at once, but sanctified all 
our life long. Yet consider it practically, and is it not so ? 
If we look at the truth objectively, must we not admit that it 
is his unchangeable will that all mankind should be saved? 
The consciousness of justification in the mind of the believer 
is but the knowledge of this fact, which always was. It is 
not made more a fact by our knowing it for many years or 
our whole life. And this is what is witnessed to by actual 
experience ; for he who is justified by faith does not go about 
doubting in himself or his future destiny, but trusting in God. 
From the first moment that he turns earnestly to God he is 
sure that he is saved ; not from any confidence in himself, 
but from an overpowering sense of the love of God and 

II. It is an old problem in philosophy, What is the begin 
ning of our moral being ? What is that prior principle which 
makes good actions produce good habits? Which of those 
acts raises us above the world of sight ? Plato would have 
answered, The contemplation of the idea of good. Some of 
ourselves would answer by the substitution of a conception of 
moral growth for the mechanical theory of habits. Leaving 
out of sight our relation to God, we can only say, that wo, 
are fearfully and wonderfully made, with powers which we 
are unable to analyze. It is a parallel difficulty in religion 
which is met by the doctrine of justification by faith. We 
grow up spiritually, we cannot tell how ; not by outward acts, 
nor always by energetic effort, but stilly and silently, by the 
grace of God descending upon us, as the dew falls upon the 
earth. If we imagine a person anxious and fearful about his 
future state, straining every nerve lest he should fall short of 
the requirements of God, overpowered with the memory of 
his past sins, that is not the temper of mind in which he 
can truly serve God, or work out his own salvation. Without 
peace it is impossible for him to act. At once and imme- 


diately the Gospel tells him that he is justified by faith, that 
his pardon is simultaneous with the very moment of his be 
lief, that he may go on his way rejoicing to fulfil the duties 
of life ; for, in human language, God is no longer angry 
with him. 

III. Thus far, in the consideration of righteousness by 
faith, we have obtained two aspects of the doctrine, in which, 
even when regarded in the abstract, it has still a meaning ; 
first, as expressing the unchangeableness of the mercy of 
God; and, secondly, the mysteriousncss of human action. 
As we approach nearer, we are unavoidably led to regard the 
gift of righteousness rather in reference to the subject than to 
the object, in relation to man rather than God. What quality, 

t feeling, temper, habit in ourselves answers to it ? It may be 
more or less conscious to us, more of a state and less of a 
feeling, showing itself rather in our lives than our lips. But 
for these differences we can make allowance. It is the same 
faith still, though showing itself in divers ways and under 
various circumstances. We must suppose it conscious for us 
to be able to describe it. 

IV. The expression " righteousness by faith " indicates, 
first, the personal character of salvation ; not what we do, but 
what we are, is the source of our acceptance with God. Who 
can bear to think of his own actions as they are seen by the 
eye of the Almighty ? Looking at their defective perform 
ance, or analyzing them into the secondary motives out of 
which they have sprung, do we seem to have any ground on 
which we can stand with God ? is there anything which satis 
fies ourselves ? That which makes us acceptable to God is 
something besides all this, which frees us from the burden 
of our good works, which raises us above the tangle of human 
life. The love of a parent to a child is not measured out in 
proportion to the child s good qualities. And although the 
measure of God s love to man is perfect justice, yet the rela 
tion in which we can most adequately conceive of God is, 
that of a person to persons, who condescends to draw us 
towards him, who allows us to attach ourselves to him. The 



symbol and mean of this personal relation of man to God is 
faith ; and the righteousness which consists not in what we 
do, but in what we are, is the righteousness of faith. 

V. Faith may be spoken of in the language of the Epistle 
to the Hebrews, as the substance of things unseen. But 
what are the things unseen ? Not merely an invisible world 
ready to flash through the thraldom of the material at the 
appearance of Christ ; not angels, or powers of darkness, or 
even God himself seated, as the Old Testament described, on 
the circle of the heavens ; but the kingdom of truth and jus 
tice, the things that are within, of which God is the centre, 
and with which men everywhere by faith hold communion. 
Faith is the belief in the existence of this kingdom ; that is, 
in the truth and justice and mercy of God, who disposes all 
things, not perhaps in our judgment for the greatest happi 
ness of his creatures, but absolutely in accordance with our 
moral notions. And that this is not seen to be the case here, 
makes it a matter of faith and not of sight, that it will be so 
in some future world, or is so in some ways that we are 
unable to comprehend. He that believes on God believes, 
first, that he is ; and, secondly, that he is the rewarder of 
them that seek him. 

VI. Now, if we go on to ask what is it that gives us this 
absolute and present assurance of the truth and justice of 
God, the answer is, the life and death of Christ, who is the 
image of God and man alike, the Son of God ; the First-born 
of the redeemed. We know what he himself has told us of 
God, and we cannot conceive perfect goodness separate from 
perfect truth ; nay, this goodness itself is the only and the 
highest conception we can form of God, if we confess and 
comprehend what the mere immensity of the material world 
tends to suggest, that God is a Being different in kind from 
any physical power ; a Being of whom the reason of man, 
however feeble, forms a far truer (though most inadequate) 
conception than imagination in its highest flights. Admit the 
statements of the Gospel respecting Christ ; it is not so much 
a matter to be proved by dubious inference from texts, as 


manifest on the surface that he is Divine in all that truly con 
stitutes divinity except this outward garb of flesh. 

That is the only image of God which we are capable of 
conceiving ; an image not of physical, nor even of spiritual 
power, seen in the sufferings rather than in the miracles of 
Christ our Saviour ; the image of perfect goodness and peace 
and truth and love. 

We are on the edge of a theological difficulty ; for who 
can deny, that the image of that goodness may fade from the 
mind s eye after so many centuries, or that there are those 
who recognize the idea and may be unable to admit the fact? 
Can we say that this error of the head is also an error of the 
heart? The lives of such unbelievers in the facts of Chris 
tianity would sometimes refute our explanation. And yet it 
is true that Providence has made our spiritual life dependent 
on the belief in certain truths, and those truths run up into 
matters of fact, with the belief in which they have ever been 
associated ; it is true also, that the most important moral 
consequences floAV from unbelief. We grant the difficulty : 
no complete answer can bo given to it on this side the grave. 
Doubtless God has provided a way that the sceptic no less 
than the believer shall receive his due ; he does not need our 
timid counsels for the protection of the truth. If among 
those who have rejected the facts of the Gospel history some 
have been rash, hypercritical, inflated with the pride of in 
tellect, or secretly alienated by sensuality from the faith of 
Christ, there have bee*h others, also, upon whom we may 
believe to rest a portion of that blessing which comes to such 
as " have not seen and yet have believed." 

VII. In the Epistles of St. Paul, and yet more in the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, the relation of Christ to mankind 
is expressed under figures of speech taken from the Mosaic 
dispensation : he is the Sacrifice for the sins of men, " the 
Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of the world " ; the 
Antitype of all the types, the impersonation of the Jewish 
Law, There are two ways in which we may treat such 
expressions ; we may regard them as figures of speech, which 


from their variety and incongruity with each other, we seem 
justified in doing (compare " Essay on the Doctrine of the 
Atonement"), or as realities, true so far as we are capable 
of conceiving, about which we may as surely reason as about 
any other statements of fact: thus, for example, we may 
speak of the infinite sacrifice of Christ ; of nothing less being 
capable of satisfying the wrath of God ; of God seeing man 
in Christ other than he really is. But such expressions, 
whatever comfort they may have given those who think of 
God under human figures, seem inevitably to dissolve when 
we rise to the contemplation of him as the God of truth, 
without parts or passions, who knows all things, and cannot 
be angry with any, or see them other than they truly are. 
What is indicated by them, to us who are dead to the Law, 
is, that God has manifested himself in Christ as the God of 
mercy ; who is more ready to hear than we to pray ; who 
has forgiven us almost before we ask him ; who has given us 
his only Son, and how will he not with him also give us all 
things? They intimate, on God s part, that he is not extreme 
to mark what is done amiss ; in human language, " he is 
touched with the feeling of our infirmities " : on our part, 
that we say to God, " Not of ourselves, but of thy grace and 
mercy, O Lord." Not in the fulness of life and health, nor 
in the midst of business, nor in the schools of theology ; but 
in the sick chamber, where are no more earthly interests, and 
in the hour of death, we have before us the living image of 
the truth of justification by faith, when man acknowledges, 
on the confines of another world, the unprofitableness of his 
own good deeds, and the goodness of God even in afflicting 
him, and his absolute reliance, not on works of righteousness 
that he has done, but on the Divine mercy. 

VIII. A true faith has been sometimes defined to be, not 
a faith in the unseen merely, or in God or Christ, but a 
personal assurance of salvation. Such a feeling may be only 
the veil of sensualism; it may be also the noble confidence of 
St. Paul. " I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor 
angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor 


things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, 
shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in 
Orist Jesus our Lord." It may be like the anticipation of 
any other fact ; or an emotion, resting on no other ground 
except that we believe ; or, thirdly, a conviction deeply rooted 
in our life and character. The whole spirit of Scripture, as 
well as our own knowledge of human nature, seems to re 
quire that we should have this personal confidence in our own 
salvation: and jet to assume that we are at the end of the 
race may make us lag in our course. Whatever danger there 
is in the doctrine of the Divine decrees, the danger is nearer 
home, and more liable to influence practice, when our belief 
takes the form of personal assurance. How, then, are we 
to escape from the dilemma, and have a rational confidence in 
the mercy of God ? 

IX. This confidence must rest, first, on a practical sense of 
the truth and justice of God, rising far above perplexities of 
fact in the world around us, or the tangle of metaphysical or 
theological difficulties. But although such a sense of the 
truth or justice of God is the beginning of our final assur 
ance respecting ourselves, yet a link of connection is wanting 
before we can venture to appropriate that which we acknowl 
edge in the abstract. The justice of God may lead to our 
condemnation as well as to our justification. Are we, then, 
in the language of the ancient tragedy, to say that no one can 
be counted happy before he dies, or that salvation is only 
imparted in a certain qualified sense before the end of our 
course is seen ? Not so : the Gospel encourages us to regard 
OUT selves, beyond all doubt or scruple, as already saved ; for 
the work of Christ is already done, and we have already par 
ticipated in it and appropriated it by faith. But this appro 
priation of it means nothing short of the utter, entire renun 
ciation of self and its interests, the absolute will and intention 
to conform to the service of God. He who feels this in him 
self feels also the absolute certainty of salvation. Only while 
we -ire halting between right and wrong, between this world 
and the next, can we have any doubt of our future destiny. 


Thus then we seem to find a rational ground for final 
assurance, beginning in a clear insight into the perfect justice 
and mercy of God, and ending in an entire appropriation of 
it to ourselves, dependent only on the unreservedness of our 
devotion to his service. The same difficulty may seem to 
spring up again with the question, how we are to define an 
unreserved devotion to the service of God; or, in other 
words, what is such a true faith as is sufficient to justify a 
final assurance ? To which it may be answered, first, that we 
know it by such test as we know the truth and sincerity of any 
other disposition of mind or heart, that is, by the effects ; and, 
secondly, that unless our faith be real in a sense far above 
the ordinary conventional belief even of good men, none can 
be justified in making it the ground of final assurance. 

"And now abideth faith, hope, and love, these three ; but 
the greatest of these is love." There seems to be a sort of 
contradiction in love being placed first, and yet faith the sole 
instrument of justification. Love, according to some, is pre 
ferred to faith, because when faith and hope are swallowed 
up in sight, love abides still. Love, according to others, is 
one principle of justification, faith another. The true reason 
seems to be, because love describes a closer and more inti 
mate union with God and our fellow-men than faith. It is 
a kind of pre-eminence that love enjoys over faith, that it 
has never yet passed into the technical language of theology. 
But there is a reflection that these words of St. Paul natu 
rally suggest in reference to our present subject. It is this: 
Christian truth has many phases, and will be received by one 
temper of mind in one way, by another in another. There 
is diversity of doctrine, but the same spirit : love is the more 
natural expression to St. John, faith to St. Paul. Human 
minds are different, and the same mind varies at different 
times ; and even the best of men have but a feeble sense of 
the unseen world. We cannot venture further to dim that 
consciousness by confining it to one expression of belief; 
and therefore, while speaking of faith as the instrument of 


justification, because faith best indicates the apprehensive, 
dependent character of our Christian life, we are bound also 
to deny that the truth of Christ is contained in any one 
statement, or the Christian life linked to any one quality. 
We must acknowledge the imperfection of language and 
thought, seeking rather to describe than to define the work 
of the Spirit, which has as many forms as the qualities, tem 
pers, faculties, circumstances, and accidents of our nature. 



THAT so many opposite systems of theology seek their 
authority in Scripture, is a fair proof that Scripture is differ 
ent from them all. That is to say, Scripture often contains in 
germ, what is capable of being drawn to either side ; it is in 
distinct, where they are distinct ; it presents two lights, where 
they present only one ; it speaks inwardly, while they clothe 
themselves in the forms of human knowledge. That indis 
tinct, intermediate, inward point of view at which the truth 
exists but in germ, they have on both sides tended to extin 
guish and suppress. Passing allusions, figures of speech, 
rhetorical oppositions, have been made the foundation of doc 
trinal statements, which are like a part of the human mind 
itself, and seem as if they could never be uprooted, without 
uprooting the very sentiment of religion. Systems of this 
kind exercise a constraining power, which makes it difficult 
for us to see anything in Scripture but themselves. 

For example, how slender is the foundation in the New 
Testament for the doctrine of Adam s sin being imputed to 
his posterity, two passages in St. Paul at most, and these 
of uncertain interpretation. The little cloud, no bigger than 
a man s hand, has covered the heavens. To reduce such 
subjects to their proper proportions, we should consider: 
First, what space they occupy in Scripture ; Secondly, how 
far the language used respecting them is literal or figurative ; 



Thirdly, whether they agree with the more general truths o! 
Scripture and our moral sense, or are not " rather repugnant 
thereto " ; Fourthly, whether their origin may not be prior to 
Christianity, or traceable in the after history of the Church ; 
Fifthly, how far to ourselves they are anything more than 

The two passages alluded to are Rom. v. 12, 21, 1 Cor. xv. 
21, 22, 45 - 49, in both of which parallels are drawn between 
Adam and Christ. In both the sin of Adam is spoken of, or 
seems to be spoken of, as the source of death to man. " As 
by one man s transgression sin entered into the world, and 
death by sin," and " As in Adam all die." Such words ap 
pear plain at first sight ; that is to say, we find in them what 
we bring to them : let us see what considerations modify their 
meaning. If we accept the Pelagian view of the passage, 
which refers the death of each man to actual sin, there is an 
end of the controversy. But it does not equally follow that, 
if what is termed the received interpretation is given to the 
words, the doctrine which it has been attempted to ground 
upon them would have any real foundation. 

We will suppose, then, that no reference is contained in 
either passage to "actual sin." In some other sense than 
this mankind are identified with Adam s transgression. But 
the question still remains, whether Adam s sin and death are 
merely the type of the sin and death of his posterity, or more 
than this the cause. The first explanation quite satisfies the 
meaning of the words " As in Adam all die " ; the second 
seems to be required by the parallel passage in the Romans, 
" As by one man sin came into the world," and " As by one 
man many were made sinners," if taken literally. 

The question involves the more general one, whether the 
ase of language in St. P.aul makes it necessary that we 
should take his words literally in this passage. Is he speak 
ing of Adam s sin being the cause of sin and death to his 
posterity, in any other sense than he spoke of Abraham being 
a father of circumcision to the uncircumcised ? (Chap, iv.) 
Yet no one would think of baling a doctrine on these words. 


Or is he speaking of all men dying in Adam, in any other 
sense than he says in 2 Cor. v. 15, that if one died for all, 
then all died. Yet in this latter passage, while Christ died 
literally, it was only in a figure that all died. May he be 
arguing in the same way as when he infers from the word 
" seed " being used in the singular, that " thy seed is Christ"? 
Or, if we confine ourselves to the passage under considera 
tion : Is the righteousness of Christ there imputed to be 
lievers, independently of their own inward holiness ? and if 
so, should the sin of Adam be imputed independently of the 
actual sins of men ? 

I. A very slight difference in the mode of expression 
would make it impossible for us to attribute to St. Paul the 
doctrine of the imputation of the sin of Adam. But we 
have seen before how varied, and how different from our 
own, are his modes of thought and language. Compare i. 4, 
iv. 25. To him, it was but a slight transition, from the iden 
tification of Adam with the sins of all mankind, to the repre 
sentation of the sin of Adam as the cause of those sins. To 
us there is the greatest difference between the two statements. 
To him it was one among many figures of the same kind, to 
oppose the first and second Adam, as elsewhere he opposes 
the old and new man. With us this figure has been singled 
out to be made the foundation of a most exact statement of 
doctrine. We do not remark that there is not even the 
appearance of attributing Adam s sin to his posterity, in any 
part of the Apostle s writings in which he is not drawing a 
parallel between Adam and Christ. 

II. The Apostle is not speaking of Adam as fallen from a 
state of innocence. He could scarcely have said, " The first 
man is of the earth, earthy," if he had had in his mind that 
Adam had previously existed in a pure and perfect state. 
He is only drawing a parallel between Adam and Christ. 
The moment we leave this parallel, all is uncertain and bn- 
determined. The logical consequences which are appended 
to his words are far out of his sight. He would hardly have 
found language to describe the nature of Adam s act, whether 


occurring by his own free will or not, or the way in which the 
supposed effect was communicated to his posterity. 

III. There are other elements of St. Paul s teaching, 
which are either inconsistent with the imputation of Adam s 
sin to his posterity, or at any rate are so prominent as to 
make such a doctrine, if held by him, comparatively unim 
portant. According to St. Paul, it is not the act of Adam, 
but the law, that 

" Brought sin into the world and all our woe.* 

And the law is almost equivalent to " the knowledge of sin." 
But original sin is, or may be, wholly unconscious ; born with 
our birth, and growing with our growth. Not so the sin of 
which St. Paul speak?, which is inseparable from conscious 
ness, as he says himself: " I was alive without the law once," 
which would be dead, if we were unconscious of it. 

IV. It will be admitted that we ought to feel still greater 
reluctance to press the statement of the Apostle to its strict 
logical consequences, if we find that the language which he 
here uses is that of his age and country. From the circum 
stance of our first reading the doctrine of the imputation 
of Adam s sin to his posterity in the Epistles of St. Paul, 
we can hardly persuade ourselves that this is not its orig 
inal source. The incidental manner in which it is alluded 
to, might indeed lead us to suppose that it would scarcely 
have been intelligible, had it not been also an opinion of 
his time. But if this inference should seem doubtful, there 
is direct evidence to show that the Jews connected sin and 
death, and the sins and death of mankind, with the sin of 
Adam, in the same way as the Apostle. The earliest trace 
of such a doctrine is found in the apocryphal Book of Wis 
dom, ii. 24. It was a further refinement of some of their 
teachers, that when Adam sinned the whole world sinned; 
because at that time Adam was the whole world, or because 
the soul of Adam comprehended the souls of all, so that 
Adam s sin conveyed an hereditary taint to his posterity. It 
was a confusion of a half physical, half logical or metaphysi- 


cal notion, arising in the minds of men who had not yet learnt 
the lesson of our Saviour: "That which is from without 
defileth not a man." That human nature or philosophy some- 
times rose up against such inventions is certainly true ; but 
it seems to be on the whole admitted, that the doctrine of 
Augustine is in substance generally agreed to by the Rabbis, 
and that there is no trace of their having derived it from the 
writings of St. Paul. 

But not only is the connection of sin and death with each 
other, and with the sin of Adam, found in the Rabbinical 
writings ; the type and antitype of the first and second Adam 
are also contained in them. In reading the first chapters of 
Genesis, the Jews made a distinction between the higher 
Adam, who was the light of the world, and had control over 
all things, who was mystically referred to where it is said, 
they two shall be one flesh ; and the inferior Adam who was 
Lord only of the creation ; who had " the breath of life," but 
not "the living soul." Schcettgen, I. 512-514,070-673. 
By some, indeed, the latter seems to have been identified with 
the Messiah. By Philo, on the other hand, the Ao yos is iden 
tified with the Trpwros ASa/,1, who is without sex, while the 
ai/fycoTTo? XOIKOS is created afterwards by the help of the angels. 
It is not the object of this statement to reconcile these varia 
tions, but merely to indicate, first, that the idea of the first 
and second Adam was familiar to the Jews in the time of St. 
Paul, and that one or other of them was regarded by them 
as the Word and the Messiah. 

V. A slighter, though not less real, foundation of the doc 
trine has been what may be termed the logical symmetry of 
the imputation of the righteousness of Christ and of the sin 
of Adam. The latter half is the correlative of the former; 
they mutually support each other. We place the first and 
second Adam in juxtaposition, and seem to see a fitness or 
reason in the one standing in the same relation to the fallen 
as the other to the saved. 

VI. It is hardly necessary to ask the further question, 
what meaning we can attach to the imputation of sin and guilt 



which are not our own, and of which we are unconscious. 
God cart never see us other than we really are, or judge us 
without reference to all our circumstances and antecedents. 
If we can hardly suppose that he would allow a fiction of 
mercy to be interposed between ourselves and him, still less 
can we imagine that he would interpose a fiction of ven 
geance. If he requires holiness before he will save, much 
more, may we say in the Apostle s form of speech, will he 
require sin before he dooms us to perdition. Nor can any 
thing be in spirit more contrary to the living consciousness of 
sin of which the Apostle everywhere speaks, than the con 
ception of sin as dead unconscious evil, originating in the 
act of an individual man, in the world before the flood. 

On the whole, then, we are led to infer, that, in the Au- 
gustinian interpretation of this passage, even if it agree with 
the letter of the text, too little regard has been paid to the 
extent to which St. Paul uses figurative language, and to the 
manner of his age in interpretations of the Old Testament. 
The difficulty of supposing him to be allegorizing the narra 
tive of Genesis is slight, in comparison with the difficulty of 
supposing him to countenance a doctrine at variance with 
our first notions of the moral nature of God. 

But when the figure is dropped, and allowance is made for 
the manner of the age, the question once more returns upon 
us, " What is the Apostle s meaning ? " He is arguing, we 
see, KUT avdpu>7Tov, and taking his stand on the received opin 
ions of his time. Do we imagine that his object is no other 
than to set the seal of his authority on these traditional be 
liefs ? The whole analogy, not merely of the writings of St. 
Paul, but of the entire New Testament, would lead us to 
suppose that his object was, not to reassert them, but to teach, 
through them, a new and nobler lesson. The Jewish Rabbis 
would have spoken of the first and second Adam ; but which 
of them would have made the application of the figure to all 
mankind ? A figure of speech it remains still, an allegory 
after the manner of that age and country, but yet with no 
uncertain or ambiguous interpretation. It means that " God 


nath made of one blood all the nations of the earth " ; that 
" he hath concluded all under sin, that he may have mercy 
upon all " ; that life answers to death, the times before to the 
times after the revelation of Jesus Christ. It means that we 
are one in a common sinful nature which, even if it be not 
derived from the sin of Adam, exists as really as if it were. 
It means that we shall be made one in Christ by the grace 
of God, in a measure here, more fully and perfectly in 
another world. More than this it also means, and more than 
language can express, but not the weak and beggarly ele 
ments of Rabbinical tradition. We may not encumber St. 
Paul with the things which he " destroyed." What it means 
further is not to be attained by theological distinctions, but 
by putting off the old man and putting on the New Man. 



THUS have we the image of the life-long struggle gathered 
up in a single instant.* In describing it we pass beyond the 
consciousness of the individual into a world of abstractions ; 
we loosen the thread by which the spiritual faculties are held 
together, and view as objects what can, strictly speaking, have 
no existence, except in relation to the subject. The divided 
members of the soul are ideal, the conflict between them is 
ideal, so also is the victory. What is real that corresponds 
to this, is not a momentary, but a continuous conflict, which 
we feel rather than know, which has its different aspects 
of hope and fear, triumph and despair, the action and reaction 
of the Spirit of God in the depths of the human soul, 
awakening the sense of sin and conveying the assurance of 

The language in which we describe this conflict is very 
different from that of the Apostle. Our circumstances are 
so changed that we are hardly able to view it in its simplest 
elements. Christianity is now the established religion of the 
civilized portion of mankind. In our own country it has 
become part of the law of the land ; it speaks with authority, 
it is embodied in a Church, it is supported by almost univer 
sal opinion, and fortified by wealth and prescription. Those 
who know least of its spiritual life, do not deny its greatness 

* Viz., in Rom. vii. 7-25. 


as a power in the world. Analogous to this relation in 
which it stands to our history and social state, is the relation 
in which it stands also to the minds of individuals. "VYe are 
brought up in it, and unconsciously receive it as the habit of 
our thoughts and the condition of our life. It is without ua, 
and we are within its circle ; we do not become Christians, 
we are so from our birth. Even in those who suppose them 
selves to have passed through some sudden and violent 
change, and to have tasted once for all of the heavenly -gift, 
the change is hardly ever in the form or substance of their 
belief, but in its quickening power ; they feel, not a new creed,- 
but a new spirit within them. So that we might truly say 
of Christianity, that it is " the daughter of time " ; it hangs 
to the past, not only because the first century is the era of 
its birth, but because each successive century strengthens its 
form and adds to its external force, and entwines it with more 
numerous links in our social state. Not only may we say, 
that it is part and parcel of the law of the land, but part and 
parcel of the character of each one, which even the worst of 
men cannot wholly shake off. 

But if with ourselves the influence of Christianity is almost 
always gradual and imperceptible, with the first believers it 
was almost always sudden. There was no interval which 
separated the preaching of Peter on the day of Pentecost, 
from" the baptism of the three thousand. The -eunuch of 
Candace paused for a brief space on a journey, and was then 
baptized into the name of Christ, which a few hours previously 
he had not so much as heard. There was no period of pro 
bation like that which, a century or two ^ later, was appro 
priated to the instruction of the Catechumens. It was an 
impulse, an inspiration passing from the lips of one to a 
chosen few, and communicated by them to the ear and soul 
of listening multitudes. As the wind bloweth where it list- 
eth, and we hear the sounds thereof; as the lightning shineth 
from the one end of the heaven to the other ; so suddenly, 
fitfully, simultaneously, new thoughts come into their minds, 
not to one only, but to many, to whole cities almost at once. 
They were pricked with the sense of sin ; they were melted 


with the love of Christ ; their spiritual nature " came again 
like the flesh of a little child." And some, like St. Paul, 
became the very opposite of their former selves ; from scof 
fers, believers ; from persecutors, preachers ; the thing that 
they were, was so strange to them, that they could no longer 
look calmly on the earthly scene which they hardly seemed 
to touch, which was already lighted up with the wrath and 
mercy of God. There were those among them who " saw 
visions and dreamed dreams," who were "caught up," like 
St. Paul, " into the third heaven," or like the twelve, " spake 
with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." And 
sometimes, as in the Thessalonian Church, the ecstasy of con 
version led to strange and wild opinions, such as the daily 
expectation of Christ s coming. The "round world" itself 
began to reel before them, as they thought of the things that 
were shortly to come to pass. 

But however sudden were the conversions of the earliest 
believers, however wonderful the circumstances which at 
tended them, they were not for that reason the less lasting or 
sincere. Though many preached " Christ of contention," 
though Demas forsook the Apostle," there were few who, 
having once taken up the cross, turned back from " the love 
of this present world." They might waver between Paul 
and Peter, between the circumcision and the uncircumcision ; 
they might give ear to the strange and bewitching heresies of 
the East ; but there is no trace that many returned to " those 
that were no gods," or put off Christ ; the impression of the 
truth that they had received was everlasting on their minds. 
Even sins of fornication and uncleanness, which from the 
Apostle s frequent warnings against them we must suppose to 
have lingered, as a sort of remnant of heathenism in the 
early Church, did not wholly destroy their inward relation to 
God and Christ. Though " their last state might be worse 
than the first," they could never return again to live the life 
of all men after having tasted " the heavenly gift and the 
powers of the world to come." 

Such WHS the nature of conversion among the early Clirw* 


tians, the new birth of which by spiritual descent we are our 
selves the offspring. Is there anything in history like it ? any 
thing in our own lives which may help us to understand it 7 
That which the Scripture describes from within, we are for a 
while going to look at from a different point of view, not with 
reference to ihe power of God, but to those secondary causes 
through which he works, the laws which experience shows 
that he himself imposes on the operations of his spirit. Such 
an inquiry is not a mere idle speculation ; it is not far from 
the practical question, " How we are to become better." Im 
perfect as any attempt to analyze our spiritual life must ever 
be, the changes which we ourselves experience or observe in 
others, compared with those greater and more sudden changes 
which took place in the age of the Apostle, will throw light 
upon each other. 

In the sudden conversions of the early Christians we ob 
serve three things which either tend to discredit, or do not 
accompany, the working of a similar power among ourselves. 
First, that conversion was marked by ecstatic and unusual 
phenomena ; secondly, that it fell upon whole multitudes at 
once ; thirdly, that, though sudden, it was permanent. 

When we consider what is implied in such expressions as 
"not many wise, not many learned," were called to the 
knowledge of the truth, we can scarcely avoid feeling that 
there must have been much in the early Church which would 
have been distasteful to us as men of education ; much that 
must have worn the appearance of excitement and enthu 
siasm. Is the mean conventicle, looking almost like a private 
house, more like that first assembly of Christians in the large 
upper room, or the Catholic church arrayed in all the glories 
of Christian art ? Neither of them is altogether like in spirit 
perhaps, but in externals the first. Is the dignified hierarchy 
that occupy the seats around the altar, more like the multi 
tude of first believers, or the lowly crowd that kneel upon the 
pavement ? If we try to embody in the mind s eye the forms 
of the first teachers, and still, more of their followers, we 
aannot help reading the true lesson, however great may be 


the illusion? of poetry or of art. Not St. Paul standing on 
Mars Hill in the fulness of manly strength, as we have him 
in the cartoon of Raphael, is the true image ; but such a one 
as he himself would glory in, whose bodily presence was 
weak and speech feeble, who had an infirmity in his flesh, and 
bore in his body the marks of the Lord Jesus. 

And when we look at this picture " full in the face," how 
ever we might by nature be inclined to turn aside from it, or 
veil its details in general language, we cannot deny that many 
things that accompany the religion of the uneducated now, 
must then also have accompanied the Gospel preached to the 
poor. There must have been, humanly speaking, spiritual 
delusions where men lived so exclusively in the spritual 
world ; there were scenes which we know took place such as 
St. Paul says would make the unbeliever think that they 
were mad. The best and holiest persons among the poor 
and ignorant are not entirely free from superstition, according 
to the notions of the educated ; at best they are apt to speak 
of religion in a manner not quite suited to our taste ; they 
sing with a loud and excited voice ; they imagine themselves 
to receive Divine oracles, even about the humblest cares ot 
life. Is not this, in externals at least, very like the appear 
ance which the first disciples must have presented, who 
obeyed the Apostle s injunction, "Is any sad? let him pray; 
is any merry ? let him sing psalms." Could our nerves have 
borne to witness " the speaking with tongues," or " the ad 
ministration of baptism," or the love-feasts as they probably 
existed in the early Church ? 

This difference between the feelings and habits of the first 
Christians and ourselves, must be borne in mind in relation 
to the subject of conversion. For as sudden changes aro 
more likely to be met with amongst the poor and uneducated 
in the present day, it certainly throws light on the subject ot 
the first conversions, that to the poor and uneducated the 
Gospel was first preached. And yet these sudden changes 
were as real, nay, more real than any gradual changes which 
take place among ourselves. The Stoic or Epicurean philos- 


opher who had come into an assembly of believers speaking 
with tongues, would have remarked, that among the vulgar 
religious extravagances were usually short-lived. But it was 
not so. There was more there than he had eyes to see, or 
than was dreamed of in a philosophy like his. Not only was 
there the superficial appearance of poverty and meanness and 
enthusiasm, from a nearer view of which we are apt to 
bhrink, but underneath this, brighter from its very obscurity, 
purer from the meanness of the raiment in which it was 
apparelled, was the life hidden with Christ and God. There, 
And there only, was the power which made a man humble 
(iiStead of proud, self-denying instead of self-seeking, spiritual 
instead of carnal, a Christian instead of a Jew ; which made 
him embrace, not only the brethren, but the whole human 
race, in the arms of his love. 

But it is a further difference between the power of the 
Gospel now and in the first ages, that it no longer converts 
whole multitudes at once. Perhaps this very individuality in 
its mode of working, may not be without an advantage in 
awakening us to its higher truths and more entire spiritual 
freedom. Whether this be so or not, which is not our present 
question, we seem to see a diminution of its collective force 
on the hearts of men. In our own days the preacher sees 
the seed, so\vn gradually, spring up ; first one, then another, 
begins to lead a better life ; then a change comes over the 
state of society, uheu from causes over which he has no con 
trol ; he makes some steps forwards and a few backwards, 
and trusts far more, if he is wise, to the silent influence of 
religious education than to the power of preaching ; and, per 
haps, the result of a long life of ministerial labor is far less 
than that of a single discourse from the lips of the Apostles 
or their followers. Even in missions to the heathen the vital 
energies of Christianity cease to operate to any great extent, 
at least on the effete civilization of India and China ; the 
limits of the kingdoms of light and darkness are nearly the 
same as heretofore. At any rate it cannot be said that Chris 
tianity has wrought any sudden amelioration of mankind by 


the immediate preaching of the word, since the conversion of 
the barbarians. Even within the Christian world there is a 
parallel retardation. The ebb and flow of reformation and 
counter-reformation have hardly changed the permanent land 
marks. The age of spiritual crises is past. The growth of 
Christianity in modern times may be compared to the change 
of the body, when it has already arrived at its full stature. 
In one half-century so vast a progress was made, in a few 
centuries more the world itself seemed to " have gone after 
Him," and now for near a thousand years the voice of ex 
perience is repeating to us, " Hitherto shalt thou go, but no 

Looking at this remarkable phenomenon of the conversion 
of whole multitudes at once, not from its Divine but from its 
human aspect, that is, with reference to that provision that 
God himself has made in human nature for the execution 
of his will, the first cause to which we are naturally led to 
attribute it, is the power of sympathy. Why it is that men 
ever act together is a mystery of which our individual self- 
consciousness gives no account, any more than why we speak 
a common language, or form nations or societies, or merely in 
our physical nature are capable of taking diseases from one 
another. Nature and the God of nature have made us thus 
dependent on each other both in body and soul. Whoever 
has seen human beings collected together in masses, and 
watched the movements that pass over them, like " the trees 
of the forest moving in the wind," will have no difficulty in 
imagining, if not in understanding, how the same voice might 
have found its way at the same instant to a thousand hearts, 
without our being able to say where the fire was first kindled, 
or by whom the inspiration was first caught. Such historical 
events as the Reformation, or the Crusades, or the French 
Revolution, are a sufficient evidence that a whole people, or 
almost, we may say, half a world, may be " drunk into one 
spirit," springing up, as it might seem, spontaneously in the 
breast of each, yet commoi, to all. A parallel yet nearer is 
furnished by the history of the Jewish people, in whose sudden 


rebellion, and restoration to God s favor, we recognize literally 
the momentary workings of, what is to ourselves a figure of 
speech, a national conscience. 

In ordinary cases we should truly say that there must have 
been some predisposing cause of a great political or religious 
revolution ; some latent elements acting alike upon all, which, 
though long smouldering beneath, burst forth at last into a 
flame. Such a cause might be the misery of mankind, or the 
intense corruption of human society, which could not be 
quickened except it die, or the long-suppressed yearnings of 
the soul after something higher than it had hitherto known 
upon earth, or the reflected light of one religion or one move 
ment of the human mind upon another. Such causes were 
actually at work, preparing the way for the diffusion of Chris 
tianity. The law itself was beginning to pass away in an 
altered world, the state of society was hollow, the chosen 
people were hopelessly under the Roman yoke. Good men 
refrained from the wild attempt of the Galilean Judas ; yet 
the spirit which animated such attempts was slumbering in 
their bosoms. Looking back at their own past history, they 
could not but remember, even in an altered world, that there 
was one who ruled among the kingdoms of men, "beside 
whom there was no God." Were they to suppose that his 
arm was straitened to save ? that he had forgotten his tender 
mercies to the house of David? that the aspirations of the 
prophets were vain ? that the blood of the Maccabean heroes 
had sunk like water into the earth ? This was a hard saying ; 
who could bear it ? It was long ere the nation, like the in 
dividual, put off the old man, that is, the temporal dispensa 
tion, and put on the new man, that is, the spiritual Israel. 
The very misery of the people seemed to forbid them to 
acquiesce in their present state. And with the miserable 
condition of the nation sprang up also the feeling, not only 
in individuals, but in the race, that for their sins they were 
chastened, the feeling which their whole history seemed to 
deepen and increase. At last the scales fell from their eyes : 
the veil that was on the face of Moses, was first trans- 


figured before them, then removed ; the thoughts of many 
hearts turned simultaneously to the hope of Israel, " Him 
whom the law and the prophets foretold." As they listened 
to the preaching of the Apostles, they seemed to hear a truth 
both new and old ; what many had thought, but none had 
uttered ; which in its comfort and joyousness seemed to them 
new, and yet, from its familiarity and suitableness to their 
condition, not the less old. 

Spiritual life, no less than natural life, is often the very 
opposite of the elements which seem to give birth to it. The 
preparation for the way of the Lord, which John the Baptist 
preached, did not consist in a direct reference to the Saviour. 
The words " He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and 
with fire," and " lie shall burn up the chaff with fire un 
quenchable," could have given the Jews no exact conception 
of Him who " did not break the bruised reed, nor quench the 
smoking flax." It was in another way that John prepared for 
Christ, by quickening the moral sense of the people, and 
sounding in their ears the voice, " Repent, for the kingdom of 
heaven is at hand." Beyond this useful lesson, there was a kind 
of vacancy in the preaching of John. He himself, as " he was 
finishing his course," testified that his work was incomplete, 
and that he was not the Christ. The Jewish people were 
prepared by his preaching for the coming of Christ, just as 
an individual might be prepared to receive him by the con 
viction of sin, and the conscious need of forgiveness. 

Except from the Gospel history and the writings of Jose- 
phus and Philo, we know but little of the tendencies of the 
Jewish mind in the time of our Lord. Yet we cannot doubt 
that the entrance of Christianity into the world was not sud 
den and abrupt ; that is an illusion which arises in the mind 
from our slender acquaintance with contemporary opinions. 
Better and higher and holier as it was, it was not absolutely 
distinct from the teaching of the doctors of the law either in 
form or substance ; it was not unconnected with, but gave 
life and truth to, the mystic fancies of Alexandrian philoso 
phy. Even in the counsels of perfection of the Sermon on 



the Mount, there is probably nothing which might not be 
found, either in letter or spirit, in Philo or some other Jewish 
or Eastern writer. The peculiarity of the Gospel is, not that 
it teaches what is wholly new, but that it draws out of the 
treasure-house of the human heart things new and old, gath 
ering together in one the dispersed fragments of the truth. 
The common people would not have " heard him gladly," but 
for the truth of what He said. The heart was its own wit 
ness to it. The better nature of man, though but for a mo 
ment, responded to it, spoken as it was with authority, and 
not as the Scribes; with simplicity, and not as the great 
teachers of the law ; and sanctified by the life and actions of 
Him from whose lips it came, and "who spake as never 
man spake." 

And yet, after reviewing the circumstances of the first 
preaching of the Gospel, there remains something which 
cannot be resolved into causes or antecedents ; which eludes 
criticism, and can no more be explained in the world than 
the sudden changes of character in the individual. There are 
processes of life and organization about which we know noth 
ing, and we seem to know that we shall never know anything. 
" That which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die " ; 
but the mechanism of this new life is too complex, and yet 
too simple for us to untwist its fibres. The figure which St. 
Paul applies to the resurrection of the body, is true also of 
the renewal of the soul, especially in the first ages, of which 
we know so little, and in which the Gospel seems to have 
acted with such far greater power than among ourselves. 

Leaving further inquiry into the conversion of the first 
Christians at the point at which it hides itself from us in 
mystery, we have now to turn to a question hardly less mys 
terious, though seemingly more familiar to us, which may be 
regarded as a question either of moral philosophy or of theol 
ogy, the nature of conversion and changes of character 
among ourselves. What traces are there of a spiritual po\\ er 
still acting upon the human heart? What is the inward 
nature, and what are the outward conditions of changes in 


human conduct ? Is our life a gradual and insensible progress 
from infancy to age, from birth to death, governed by fixed 
laws : or is it a miracle and mystery of thirty, or fifty, or 
seventy years standing, consisting of so many isolated actions 
or portions knit together by no common principle ? 

Were we to consider mankind only from without, there 
could be no doubt of the answer which we should give to the 
last of these questions. The order of the world would 
scarcely even seem to be infringed by the free-will of man. 
In morals, no less than in physics, everything would appear 
to proceed by regular law. Individuals have certain capaci 
ties, which grow with their growth and strengthen with their 
strength ; arid no one by taking thought can add one cubit to 
his stature. As the old proverb says, " The boy is father to 
the man." The lives of the great majority have a sort of 
continuity : as we know them by the same look, walk, man 
ner ; so when we come to converse with them, we recognize 
the same character as formerly. They may be changed; 
but the change in general is such as we expect to find in them 
from youth to maturity, or from maturity to decay. There 
is something which they do not change, by which we perceive 
them to be the same. If they were weak, they remain so 
still ; if they were sensitive, they remain so still ; if they 
were selfish or passionate, such faults are seldom cured by 
increasing age or infirmities. And often the same nature 
puts on many veils and disguises, different indeed on the 
surface, but within unchanged. 

The appearance of this sameness in human nature has 
led many to suppose that no real change ever takes place. 
Does a man from a drunkard become sober? from a knight 
errant become a devotee? from a sensualist a believer in 
Christ ? or a woman from a life of pleasure pass to a romantic 
and devoted religion ? It has been maintained that they are 
the same still ; and that deeper similarities remain than the 
differences which have sprung up on the surface. Those 
who make the remark would say, that such persons exhibit 
the same vanity, the same irritability, the same ambition ; 


that sensualism still lurks under the disguise of refinement, 
or earthly and human passion transfuses itself into devo 

This "practical fatalism," which says that human beings 
can be what they are and nothing else, has a certain degree 
of truth, or rather, of plausibility, from the circumstance that 
men seldom change wholly, and that the part of their nature 
which changes least is the weakness and infirmity that shows 
itself on the surface. Few, comparatively, ever change their 
outward manner, except from the mere result of altered cir 
cumstances ; and hence, to a superficial observer, they appear 
to change less than is really the fact. Probably, St. Paul 
never lost that trembling and feebleness which was one of 
the trials of his life. Nor, in so far as states of the mind 
are connected with the body, can we pretend to be wholly 
free agents. The mind does indeed rule the body, but in a 
subtle and mysterious way, as it were by predisposing it to a 
particular course of action The body may enslave the 
mind : it is the image of freedom, not of slavery, which 
expresses the relation of the mind to the body. 

If from this external aspect of human things we turn in 
ward, there seems to be no limit to the changes which we 
deem possible. At any moment we can form the resolution 
to lead a new life ; in idea at least no time is required for 
the change. One instant we may be proud, the next humble ; 
one instant sinning, at the next repenting ; one instant, like 
St. Paul, ready to persecute, at another, to preach the Gos 
pel ; full of malice and hatred one hour, melting into tender 
ness the next. As we hear the words of the preacher, there 
is a voice within telling us, that " now, even now, is the day 
of salvation " ; and if certain clogs and hinderances of earth 
could only be removed, we seem ready to pass immediately 
into another state. But besides such feelings as these, which 
we know to b3 partly true, partly illusive, every one s ex 
perience of himself appears to teach him, that he has gone 
through many changes and had many special providences in 
life ; he says to himself that he has been led in a mysterious 


and peculiar way, not like the way of other men, and had 
feelings not common to others ; he compares different times 
and places, and contrasts his own conduct here and there, 
now and then. In other men he remarks similarity of char 
acter ; in himself he sees chiefly diversity. Other men seem 
to move by regular rule and order, while his own actions are 
instinct with will and life. Is he then the only exception, or 
do other men appear to themselves to be exceptions too ? 

Common sense, of course, replies, that what our inward 
experience assures us of, every other person of the same 
reflection and sensibility is assured of too. And yet it does 
not follow, that this inward fact is to be set aside as the result 
of egotism and self-consciousness. It may be not merely the 
dreamy reflection of our life and actions in the mirror of self, 
but the subtle and delicate spring of the whole machine. To 
purify the feelings or to move the will, the first sense may be 
as necessary to us as the second is to regulate and sustain 
them. Even to the formula of the fatalist, that " freedom is 
the consciousness of necessity," it may be replied, that that 
very consciousness, as he terms it, is as essential as any other 
link in the chain in which " he binds fast the world." With 
out touching further on the metaphysical question of the free 
dom of the will, we will proceed to consider some practical 
aspects of this supposed regularity or irregularity in human 

For the doctrine of conversion, the moralist substitutes 
the theory of habits. Good actions, he says, produce good 
habits ; and the repetition of good actions makes them easier 
to perform, and "fortifies us indefinitely against temptation." 
There are bodily and mental habits, habits of reflection, 
and habits of action. Practice gives skill or sleight of hand ; 
constant attention, the faculty of abstraction ; so the practice 
of virtue makes us virtuous, that of vice, vicious. The more 
meat we eat, to use the illustration of Aristotle, in whom we 
find a cruder form of the same theory, the more we are able 
to eat meat ; the more AVC wrestle, the more able we are to 
wrestle ; and so forth. If a person has some duty to perform. 


say of common and trivial sort, to rise at a particular hour in 
the morning, to be at a particular place at such an hour, to 
con brm to some rule about abstinence, we tell him that he 
will find the first occasion difficult, the second easy, and the 
d tfk ulty is supposed to vanish by degrees until it wholly 
disappears. If a man has to march into a battle, or to per 
form a surgical operation, or to do anything else from which 
human nature shrinks, his nerves, we say, are gradually 
strengthened ; his head, as was said of a famous soldier, 
clears up at the sound of the cannon ; like the gravedigger in 
Hamlet, he has soon no " feeling of his occupation." 

From a consideration of such instances as these the rule 
has been laid down, that " as the passive impression weakens, 
the active habit strengthens." But is not this saying of a 
great man founded on a narrow and partial contemplation of 
human nature ? For, in the first place, it leaves altogether 
out of sight the motives of human action ; it is equally suited 
to the most rigid formalist, and to a moral and spiritual being. 
Secondly, it takes no account of the limitation of the power 
of habits, which, neither in mind nor body, can be extended 
beyond a certain point ; nor of the original capacity or pecu 
liar character of individuals ; nor of the different kinds of 
habits, nor of the degrees of strength and weakness in differ 
ent minds ; nor of the enormous difference between youth 
and age, childhood and manhood, in the capacity for acquiring 
habits. Old age does not move with accumulated force, either 
upwards or downwards ; they are the lesser habits, not the 
great springs of life, that show themselves in it with in 
creased power. Nor can the man who has neglected to form 
habits in youth, acquire them in mature life ; like the bed/, 
the mind ceases to be capable of receiving a particular form. 
Lastly, such a description of human nature agrees with no 
man s account of himself; whatever moralists may say, he 
knows himself to be a spiritual being. " The wind bloweth 
where it listeth," and he cannot " tell whence it cometh, or 
whither it goeth." 

All that is true in the theory of habits seems to be implied 


in the notion of order or regularity. Even this is inadequate 
to give a conception of the structure of human beings. Order 
is the beginning, but freedom is the perfection, of our moral 
nature. Men do not live at random, or act one instant with 
out reference to their actions just before. And in youth 
especially, the very sameness of our occupations is a sort of 
stay and support to us, as in age it may be described as 
a kind of rest. But no one will say that the mere repe 
tition of actions until they constitute a habit, gives any ex 
planation of the higher and nobler forms of human virtue, or 
the finer moulds of character. Life cannot be explained as 
the working of a mere machine, still less can moral or 
spiritual life be reduced to merely mechanical laws. 

But if, while acknowledging that a great proportion of man 
kind are the creatures of habit, and that a great part of our 
actions are nothing more than the result of habit, we go on 
to ask ourselves about the changes of our life, and fix our 
minds on the critical points, we are led to view human nature, 
not only in a wider and more liberal spirit, but also in a 
way more accordant with the language of Scripture. We no 
longer measure ourselves by days or by weeks ; we are con 
scious that at particular times we have undergone great revo 
lutions or emotions ; and then, again, have intervened periods 
lasting perhaps for years, in which we have pursued the even 
current of our way. Our progress towards good may have 
been in idea an imperceptible and regular advance ; in fact, 
we know it to have been otherwise. We have taken plunges 
in life ; there are many eras noted in our existence. The 
greatest changes are those of which we are the least able to 
give an account, and which we feel the most disposed to refer 
to a superior power. That they were simply mysterious, like 
some utterly unknown natural phenomena, is our first thought 
about them. But although unable to fathom their tine na 
ture, we are capable of analyzing many of the circumstances 
which accompany them, and of observing the impulses out 
of which they arise. 

Every man has the power of forming a resolution, or, 


without previous resolution, in any particular instance, acting 
as he will. As thoughts come into the mind one cannot tell 
how, so too motives spring up, without our being able to trace 
their origin. Why we suddenly see a thing in a new light, 
is often hard to explain ; why we feel an action to be right or 
wrong which has previously seemed indifferent, is not less 
inexplicable. We fix the passing dream or sentiment in 
action ; the thought is nothing, the deed may be everything. 
That day after day, to use a familiar instance, the drunkard 
will find abstinence easier, is probably untrue ; but that from 
once abstaining he will gain a fresh experience, and receive a 
new strength and inward satisfaction, which may result in 
endless consequences, is what every one is aware of. It is 
not the sameness of what we do, but its novelty, which seems 
to have such a peculiar power over us ; not the repetition of 
many blind actions, but the performance of a single conscious 
one, that is the birth to a new life. Indeed, the very same 
ness of actions is often accompanied with a sort of weariness, 
which makes men desirous of change. 

Nor is it less true, that by the commission, not of many, 
but a single act of vice or crime, an inroad is made into our 
whole moral constitution, which is not proportionably in 
creased by its repetition. The first act of theft, falsehood, or 
other immorality, is an event in the life of the perpetrator 
which he never forgets. It may often happen that no ac 
count can be given of it ; that there is nothing in the 
education, nor in the antecedents of the person, that would 
lead us, or even himself, to suspect it. In the weaker sort 
of persons especially, suggestions of evil spring up we cannot 
tell how. Human beings are the creatures of habit; but 
they are the creatures of impulse too ; and from the greater 
variableness of the outward circumstances of life, and espe 
cially of particular periods of life, and the greater freedom 
of individuals, it may, perhaps, be found that human actions, 
though less liable to wide-spread or sudden changes, have 
also become more capricious, and less reducible to simple 
causes, than formerly. 


Changes in character come more often in the form of feeling 
than of reason, from some new affection or attachment, or 
alienation of our former self, rather than from the slow 
growth of experience, or a deliberate sense of right and 
duty. The meeting with some particular person, the remem 
brance of some particular scene, the last words of a parent 
or friend, the reading of a sentence in a book, may call forth 
a world within us of the very existence of which we were 
previously unconscious. New interests arise such as we 
never before knew, and we can no longer lie grovelling in the 
mire, but must be up and doing ; new affections seem to be 
drawn out, such as warm our inmost soul and make action 
and exertion a delight to us. Mere human love at first sight, 
as we say, has been known to change the whole character and 
produce an earthly effect, analogous to that heavenly love of 
Christ and the brethren, of which the New Testament speaks. 
Have we not seen the passionate become calm, the licentious 
pure, the weak strong, the scoffer devout? We may not 
venture to say with St. Paul, " This is a great mystery, but 
I speak concerning Christ and the Church." But such in 
stances serve, at least, to quicken our sense of the depth and 
subtlety of human nature. 

Of many of these changes no other reason can be given 
than that nature and the God of nature have made men 
capable of them. There are others, again, which we seem to 
trace, not only to particular times, but to definite actions, 
from which they flow in the same manner that other effects 
follow from their causes. Among such causes none are more 
powerful than acts of self-sacrifice and devotion. A single 
deed of heroism makes a man a hero ; it becomes a part of 
him, and, strengthened by the approbation and sympathy of 
his fellow r men, a sort of power which he gains over himself 
and them. Something like this is true of the lesser occasions 
of life no less than of the greatest ; provided in either case 
they are not of such a kind that the performance of them ii 
a mere violence to our nature. Many a one has stretched 
liimself on the rack of asceticism, without on the whole 


raising his nature ; often he has seemed to have gained in 
aelf-control only what he has lost in the kindlier affections, 
and by his very isolation to have wasted the opportunities 
which nature offered him of self-improvement. But no one 
with a heart open to human feelings, loving not man the less, 
but God more, sensitive to the happiness of this world, yet 
aiming at a higher, no man of such a nature ever made a 
great sacrifice, or performed a great act of self-denial, with 
out impressing a change on his character, which lasted to his 
latest breath. No man ever took his besetting sin, it may be 
lust, or pride, or love of rank and position, and, as it were, 
cut it out by voluntarily placing himself where to gratify it 
was impossible, without sensibly receiving a new strength of 
character. In one day, almost in an hour, he may become an 
altered man ; he may stand, as it were, on a different stage 
of moral and religious life ; he may feel himself in new rela 
tions to an altered world. 

Nor, in considering the effects of action, must the influence 
of impressions be lost sight of. Good resolutions are apt to 
have a bad name ; they have come to be almost synonymous 
with the absence of good actions. As they get older, men 
deem it a kind of weakness to be guilty of making them ; so 
often do they end in raising " pictures of virtue, or going over 
the theory of virtue in our minds." Yet this contrast be 
tween passive impression and active habit, is hardly justified 
by our experience of ourselves or others. Valueless as they 
are in themselves, good resolutions are suggestive of great 
good ; they are seldom wholly without influence on our con 
duct ; in the weakest of men they are still the embryo of 
action. They may meet with a concurrence of circumstances 
in which they seem to grow spontaneously, coinciding with 
some change of place, or of pursuits, or of companions, or of 
natural constitution, in which they acquire a double power. 
They are the opportunities of virtue, if not virtue itself. At 
the worst they make us think ; they give us an experience of 
ourselves ; they prevent our passing our lives in total uncon 
sciousness. A man may go on all his life making and not 


keeping them ; miserable as such a state appears, he is per 
haps not the worse, but something the better, for them. The 
voice of the preacher is not lost, even if he succeed but for a 
few instants in awakening them. 

A further cause of sudden changes in the moral constitution 
is the determination of the will by reason and knowledge. 
Suppose the case of a person living in a narrow circle of 
ideas, within the limits of his early education, perplexed by 
innumerable difficulties, yet never venturing beyond the wall 
of prejudices in which he has been brought up. A new view 
of his relation to the world, and to God, is suddenly pre 
sented to him ; such, for example, as in St. Paul s day was 
the grand acknowledgment that God was not the God of the 
Jews only, but also of the Gentiles ; such as in our own age 
would be the clear perception of the moral nature of God, 
and of his infinite truth and justice. He is convinced, not 
only of the supernatural character, but of the reasonableness, 
of religion, and it becomes to him at once a self-imposed law. 
No longer does the human heart seem to rebel ; no longer 
has he "to pose his understanding" with that odd resolution 
of Tertullian, " certum quia impossible." He perceives that 
the perplexities of religion have been made, not by the ap 
pointment of God, but by the ingenuity of man. 

Lastly. Among those influences, by the help of which the 
will of man seems to disengage itself from the power of habit, 
must not be omitted the influence of circumstances. If men 
are creatures of habit, much more are they creatures of cir 
cumstances. These two, iTature without us, and " the second 
nature " that is within, are the counterbalancing forces of our 
being. Between them (so we may figure to ourselves the 
working of the mind) the human will inserts itself, making the 
force of one a lever against the other, and seeming to rule 
both. We fall under the power df habit, and feel ourselves 
weak and powerless to shake off the almost physical influence 
which it exerts upon us. The enfeebled frame cannot rid 
itself of the malady ; the palsied springs of action cannot be 
strengthened for good, nor fortified against evil. Transplanted 


inio another soil, and in a different air, we renew our strength. 
En youth especially, the character seems to respond kindly to 
the influence of the external world. Nature and the God of na 
ture have given us many aids in the battle with self, the great 
est of which, humanly speaking, is change of circumstances. 

We have wandered far from the subject of conversion in 
the early Church, into another sphere in which the words 
"grace, faith, the spirit," have disappeared, and notions of 
moral philosophy have taken their place. It is better, per 
haps, that the attempt to analyze our spiritual nature should 
assume this abstract form. We feel that words cannot ex 
press the life hidden with Christ in God ; we are afraid of 
declaring on the housetop, what may only be spoken in the 
closet. If the rites and ceremonies of the elder dispensation, 
which have so little ii^ them of a spiritual character, were a 
figure of the true, much more may the moral world be 
regarded as a figure of the spiritual world of which religion 
speaks to us. 

There is a view of the changes of the characters of men 
which begins where this ends, which reads human nature by 
a different light, and speaks of it as the seat of a great struggle 
between the powers of good and evil. It would be untrue to 
identify this view with that which has preceded, and scarcely 
less untrue to attempt to interweave the two in a system 01 
" moral theology." No addition of theological terms will 
transfigure Aristotle s Ethics into a " Summa Theologiae." 
When St. Paul says, " O wretched man that I am, who shall 
deliver me from the body of this death ? " "I thank God 
through Jesus Christ our Lord"; he is not speaking the 
language of moral philosophy, but of religious feeling. He 
expresses what few have truly felt concentrated in a single 
instant, what many have deluded themselves into the be] /ef 
of, what some have experienced accompanying them through 
life, what a great portion even of the better sort of mankind 
are wholly unconscious of. It seems a? if Providence allowed 
us to regard the truths of religion and morality in many ways 


which are not wholly unconnected with each othei, yet 
parallel rather than intersecting ; providing for the varieties 
of human character, and not leaving those altogether without 
law, who are incapable in a world of sight of entering within 
the veil. 

As we return to that " hidden life " of which the Scripture 
speaks, our analysis of human nature seems to become more 
imperfect, less reducible to rule or measure, less capable of 
being described in a language which all men understand. 
What the believer recognizes as the record of his experience 
is apt to seem mystical to the rest of the world. We do not 
seek to thread the mazes of the human soul, or to draw forth 
to the light its hidden communion with its Maker, but only to 
present in general outline the power of religion among other 
causes of human action. 

Directly, religious influences may be summed up under 
three heads : The power of God ; the love of Christ ; the 
efficacy of prayer. 

(1.) So far as the influence of the first of these is capa 
ble of analysis, it consists in the practical sense that we are 
dependent beings, and that our souls are in the hands of 
God, who is acting through us, and ever present with us in 
the trials of life and in the work of life. The believer is a 
minister who executes this work, hardly the partner in it ; it 
is not his own, but God s. He does it with the greatest care, 
as unto the Lord and not to men, yet is indifferent as to the 
result, knowing that all things, even through his imperfect 
agency, are working together for good. The attitude of his 
soul towards God is such as to produce the strongest effects 
on his power of action. It leaves his faculties clear and 
unimpassioned ; it raises him into communion with nature and 
God ; it places him above accidents ; it perfects strength in 
weakness. It gives the assurance of a real and present 
possession of all things, as St. Paul says: "All things are 
ours, whether life or death, or things present or things to 
come." It is the source of power and freedom. It affords 
the perfect peace of a soul stayed on God. 


In merely human things, the aid and sympathy of others 
increase our power to act : it is also the fact, we can work 
more effectually and think more truly, where the issue is not 
staked on the result of our thought and work. The confi 
dence of success would be more than half the secret of suc 
cess, did it not also lead to the relaxation of our efforts. 
But in the life of the believer, the sympathy, if such a figure 
of speech may be allowed, is not human, but Divine ; the 
confidence is not a confidence in ourselves, but in the power 
of God, which at once takes us out of ourselves and increases 
our obligation to exertion. The instances just mentioned 
have an analogy, though but a faint one, with that which we 
are considering. They are shadows of the support we re 
ceive from the Infinite and Everlasting. As the philosopher 
said that his theory of fatalism was absolutely required to 
insure the repose necessary for moral action, it may be said, 
in a far higher sense, that the consciousness of a Divine 
Providence is necessary to enable a rational being to meet 
the present trials of life, and to look without fear on his 
future destiny. 

(2.) But yet more strongly is it felt that the love of Christ 
has this constraining power over souls, that here, if any 
where, we are unlocking the twisted chain of sympathy, and 
reaching the inmost mystery of human nature. The light, 
once for all, of Christ crucified, recalling the thought of what, 
more than eighteen hundred years ago, he suffered for us, has 
ravished the heart and melted the affections, and made the 
world seem new, and covered the earth itself with a fair 
vision, that is, a heavenly one. The strength of this feeling 
arises from its being directed towards a person, a real being, 
an individual like ourselves, who has actually endured all 
this for our sakes, who was so much above us. and yet became 
one of us and felt as we did, and was, like ourselves, a true 
man. The love which he felt towards us, we seek to return 
to him ; the unity which he has with God, he communicates 
to us. By looking upon him we become like him, and at 
length we see him as he is. Mere human love rests on in- 


stincts, the working of which we cannot explain, but which 
nevertheless touch the inmost springs of our being. So too 
we have spiritual instincts, acting towards higher objects, still 
more suddenly and wonderfully capturing our souls in an 
instant, and making us indifferent to all things else. Such 
instincts show themselves in the weak no less than in the 
strong ; they seem to be not so much an original part of our 
nature, as to fulfil our nature, and add to it, and draw it out, 
until they make us different beings to ourselves and others. 
It was the quaint fancy of a sentimentalist to ask whether 
any one who remembers the first sight of a beloved person, 
could doubt the existence of magic. Much more truly we 
may ask, Can any one who has ever once known the love 
of Christ doubt the existence of a spiritual power ? 

(3.) Another power or instrument by the help of which 
we become servants of God, which is of a peculiar nature, 
and seems to be intermediate between feeling and action, and 
to partake of both, is prayer. Prayer is the com entration of 
faith in a definite act, which is at once inward and outward, 
the influence of which on the character, like that oi any other 
act, is proportioned to its intensity. The imagination of doing 
rightly adds little to our strength ; even the wish to do so is 
not necessarily accompanied by a change of heart and con 
duct. But in prayer we imagine, and wish, and perform all 
in one. Our imperfect resolutions are brought into the pres 
ence of God; our weakness becomes strength, our words 
deeds. No other action is so mysterious ; there is none in 
which we seem, in the same manner, to renounce ourselves 
that we may be one with God. 

Of what nature that prayer is which is effectual to the ob 
taining of these results, is a question of the same kind as what 
constitutes a true faith. That prayer, we should answer, 
which is itself most of an act, which is most immediately 
followed by action, which is most truthful, manly, self-con 
trolled, which seems to lead and direct, rather than to follow, 
our natural emotions. Prayer is the very reverse *f the 
assertion of ourselves before God ; yet in kneeling before 


him, while we remember that he is God, he bids us remem 
ber also that we are men, whom, even when humbled before 
him, he would not have fall below the reason that he has 
given us. 

In prayer, as in all religion, there is something that it is 
impossible to describe, and that seems to be untrue the 
moment it is expressed in words. In the communion of man. 
with God, it is vain to attempt to separate what belongs to 
the finite and what to the infinite. We can feel, but we can 
not analyze it. We can lay down practical rules for it, but 
can give no adequate account of it. It is a mystery which 
we do not seek to fathom. In all religion there is an element 
of which we are conscious ; there is that beyond which we 
feel rather than know. 

This indistinctness in the very subject of religion, even 
independent of mysticism or superstition, may become to 
intellectual minds a ground for doubting the truth of that 
which will not be subjected to the ordinary tests of human 
knowledge, which seems to elude our grasp, and retire into 
the recesses of the soul the moment we ask for the demon 
stration of its existence. Against this natural suspicion let 
us set the fact, that, judged by its effects, the power of re 
ligion is of all powers the greatest. Knowledge itself is a 
weak instrument to stir the soul compared with religion ; 
morality has no way to the heart of man ; but the Gospel 
reaches the feelings and the intellect at once. In nations as 
well as individuals, in barbarous times as well as civilized, in 
the great crises of history especially, even in the latest ages, 
when the minds of men seem to wax cold, and all things re 
main the same as at the beginning, it has shown itself to be 
a reality without which human nature would cease to be t* hat 
it is. Almost every one has had the witness of it in himself. 
No one, says Plato, ever passed from youth to age in un 
belief of the gods, in heathen times. Hardly any educated 
person in a Christian land has passed from youth to age 
without some aspiration after a better life, some thought 
of the country to which he is going. 


As a fact it would be admitted by most, that at some period 
of their lives the thought of the world to come and of future 
judgment, the beauty and loveliness of the truths of the Gos 
pel, the sense of the shortness of our days here, have wrought 
a more quickening and powerful effect than any moral truths 
or prudential maxims. Many a one would acknowledge that 
he has been carried whither he knew not; and had nobler 
thoughts, and felt higher aspirations, than the course of his 
ordinary life seemed to allow. These were the most im 
portant moments of his life for good or for evil ; the critical 
points which have made him what he is, either as he used 
or neglected them. They came he knew not how, sometimes 
with some outward and apparent cause, at other times without, 
the result of affliction or sickness, or " the wind blowing 
where it listeth." 

And if such changes and such critical points should be 
found to occur in youth more often than in age, in the poSr 
and ignorant rather than in the educated, in women more 
often than in men, if reason and reflection seem to weaken 
as they regulate the springs of human action, this very fact 
may lead us to consider that reason, and reflection, and edu 
cation, and the experience of age, and the force of manly 
sense, are not the links which bind us to the communion of 
the body of Christ ; that it is rather to those qualities which 
we have, or may have, in common with our fellow-men, that 
the Gospel is promised ; and that it is with the weak, the 
poor, the babes in Christ, not with the strong-minded, the 
resolute, the consistent, that we shall sit down in the king 
dom of heaven. 



RELIGION and morality seem often to become entangled in 
circumstances. The truth which came, not " to bring peace 
upon earth, but a sword," could not but give rise to many 
new and conflicting obligations. The kingdom of God had 
to adjust itself with the kingdoms of this world ; though " the 
children were free," they could not escape the fulfilment of 
duties to their Jewish or Roman governors ; in the bosom of 
a family there were duties too ; in society there were many 
points of contact -with the heathen. A new element of com 
plexity had been introduced in all the relations between man 
and man, giving rise to many new questions, which might be 
termed, in the phraseology of modern times, " cases of con 

Of these the one which most frequently recurs in the 
Epistles of St. Paul, is the question respecting meats and 
drinks, which appears to have agitated both the Roman and 
Corinthian Churches, as well as those of Jerusalem and 
Antioch* and probably, in a greater or less degree, every 
other Christian community in the days of the Apostle. The 
scruple which gave birth to it was not confined to Christian 
ity : it was Eastern rather than Christian, and originated in a 
feeling into which entered, not only Oriental notions of physi 
cal purity and impurity, but also those of caste and of race. 
With other Eastern influences it spread towards the West, in 


the flux of all religions, exercising a peculiar power on the 
susceptible temper of mankind. 

The same tendency exhibited itself in various forms. In 
one form it was the scruple of those who ate herbs, while 
others " had faith " to eat anything. The Essenes and 
Thcrapeutse among the Jews, and the Pythagoreans in the 
heathen world, had a similar feeling respecting the use of 
animal food. It was a natural association which led to such 
an abstinence. In the East, ever ready to connect, or rather 
incapable of separating, ideas of moral and physical impurity, 
where the heat of the climate rendered animal food un 
necessary, if not positively unhealthful ; where corruption so 
soon infected the remains of animals ; where, lastly, ancient 
tradition and ceremonies told of the sacredness of animals and 
the mysteriousness of animal life, nature and religion alike 
seemed to teach the same lesson, it was safer to abstain. It 
was the manner of such a scruple to propagate itself. He 
who revolted at animal food could not quietly sit by and see 
his neighbor partake of it. The ceremonialism of the age 
was the tradition of thousands of years, and passed by a sort 
of contagion from one race to another, from Paganism or 
Judaism to Christianity. How to deal with this "second 
nature " was a practical difficulty among the first Christians. 
They were not an Essene sect ; and the Church could not 
exclude those who held the scruple, could not be narrowed 
to them, could not pass judgment on them at all. Hence the 
force of the Apostle s words : " Him that is weak in the faith 
receive, but not to the decision of doubts." 

There was another point in reference to which the same 
spirit of ceremonialism propagated itself; namely, meats 
offered to idols. Even if meat in general were .innocent 
and a creature of God, it could hardly be a matter of indif 
ference to partake of that which had been " sacrificed to 
devils " ; least of all, to sit at meat in the idol s temple. True, 
the idol was " nothing in the world," a block of stone, to 
which the words good or evil were only misapplied ; but it 
was impossible that the first believers could so regard it. 


When they saw the worshippers of the idol revelling in im 
purity, they could not but believe that a spirit of some kind 
was there. Their warfare, as the Apostle himself had told 
them, was not against flesh and blood, but against principali 
ties, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this 
world. And if they had been completely free from super 
stition, and could have regarded the heathen religions which 
they saw enthroned over the world simply with contempt, still 
the question would have arisen, What connection were they 
to have with them and with their worshippers? a question 
not easy to be answered in the bustle of Rome and Corinth, 
where every circumstance of daily life, every amusement, 
every political and legal right, was in some way bound up 
with the heathen religions. Were they to go out of the 
world ? if not, what was to be their relation to those without ? 
It was a branch of this more general question, the beginning 
of the difficulty so strongly felt and so vehemently disputed 
about in the days of Tertullian, which St. Paul discusses in 
reference to meats offered to idols. Where was the line to 
be drawn ? Were they to visit the idol s temple, to sacrifice 
like other men to Diana or Jupiter ? That could hardly be 
consistent with their Christian profession. But granting this, 
where were they to stop ? Was it lawful to eat meats offered 
to idols ? But if not, then how careful should they be to 
discover what was offered to idols ! How easily might they 
fall into sin unawares ! The scruple once indulged would 
soon gather strength, until the very provision of their daily 
food would become difficult by their disuse of the markets of 
the heathen. 

A third instance of the same ceremonialism so natural to 
that age, and to ourselves so strange and unmeaning, is illus 
trated by the words of the Jerusalem Christians to the Apos 
tle, " Thou wentest in unto men uncircumcised, and didst eat 
with them"; a scruple so strong that, probably, St. Peter 
himself was never entirely free from it, and at any rate 
yielded to the fear of it in others when withstood by St. Paul 
at Antioch. This scruple may be said in one sense not to be 


capable of an explanation, and in another not to need one. 
For, probably, nothing can give our minds any conception of 
the nature of the feeling, the intense hold which it exercised, 
the concentration which it was of every national and religious 
prejudice, the constraint which was required to get rid of it 
as a sort of " horror naturalis " in the minds of Jews ; while, 
on the other hand, feelings at the present day not very dis 
similar exist, not only in Eastern countries, but among our 
selves. There is nothing strange in human nature being 
liable to them, or in their long lingering and often returning^ 
even when reason and charity alike condemn them. We 
ourselves are not insensible to differences of race and color, 
and may therefore be able partially to comprehend (allowing 
for the difference of East and West) what was the feeling of 
Jews and Jewish Christians towards men uncircumcised. 

On the last point St. Paul maintains but one language : 
" In Christ Jesus there is neither circumcision nor uncircum- 
cision." No compromise could be allowed here, without 
destroying the Gospel that he preached. But the other ques 
tion of meats and drinks, when separated from that of cir 
cumcision, admitted of various answers and points of view. 
Accordingly, there is an appearance of inconsistency in the 
modes in which the Apostle resolves it. All these modes 
have a use and interest for ourselves. Though our difficulties 
are not the same as those of the early Christians, the words 
speak to us, so long as prudence, and faith, and charity are 
the guides of Christian life. It is characteristic of the Apos 
tle that his answers run into one another, as though each of 
them to different individuals, and all in their turn, might 
present the solution of the difficulty. 

Separating them under different heads, we may begin with 
1 Cor. x. 25, which may be termed the rule of Christian 
prudence : " Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, 
asking no question for conscience sake." That is to say: 
" Buy food as other men do. Perhaps what you purchase has 
come from the idol s temple, perhaps not. Do not encourage 
your conscience in raising scruples : life w/11 become unpossi- 


We if you do. One question involves another and another and 
another without end. The manly and the Christian way is to 
cut them short ; both as tending to weaken the character, and 
as inconsistent with the very nature of spiritual religion." 

So we may venture to amplify the Apostle s precept, which 
breathes the same spirit of moderation as his decisions re 
specting celibacy and marriage. Among ourselves the remark 
is often made that " extremes are practically untrue." This 
is another way of putting the same lesson : If I may not sit 
in the idol s temple, it may be plausibly argued, neither may 
I eat meats offered to idols ; and if I may not eat meats 
offered to idols, then it logically follows that I ought not 
to go into the market where idols meat is sold. The 
Apostle snaps the chain of this misapplied logic : there 
must be a limit somewhere ; we must not push consistency 
where it is practically impossible. A trifling scruple is raised 
to the level of a religious duty, and another and another, 
until religion is made up of scruples, and the light of life 
fades, and the ways of life narrow themselves. 

It is not hard to translate the Apostle s precept into the 
language of our time. Instances occur hi politics, in theology, 
in our ordinary occupations, in which beyond a certain point 
consistency is impossible. Take for example the following . 
A person feels that he would be wrong in carrying on his 
business, or going to public amusements, on a Sunday. He 
says : If it be wrong for me to work, it is wrong to make the 
servants in my house work ; or if it be wrong to go to public 
amusements, it is wrong to enjoy the recreation of walking on 
a Sunday. So it may be argued that, because slavery is 
wrong, therefore it is not right to purchase the produce of 
slavery, or that of which the produce of slavery is a part ; 
and so on without end, until we are forced out of the world 
from a remote fear of contagion with evil. Or I am engaged 
in an employment which may be in some degree deleterious 
to the health or injurious to the morals of those who are 
employed in it, or I let a house to another who is so en 
gaged. Numberless questions of the same kii d relating to 


the profession of an advocate, a soldier, or a clergyman, have 
been pursued into endless consequences. In all these cases 
there is a point at which necessity comes in and compels us 
to adopt the rule of the Apostle, which may be paraphrased, 
" Do as other men do in a Christian country." Conscience 
may say, " He who is guilty of the least, is guilty of all." 
In the Apostle s language it then becomes " the strength of 
sin," encouraging us to despair of all ; because in that mixed 
condition of life in which God has placed us, we cannot 
fulfil all. 

In accordance with the spirit of the same principle of doing 
as other men do, the Apostle further implies that believers 
are to accept the hospitality of the heathen. (1 Cor. x. 27.) 
But here a modification conies in, which may be termed the 
law of Christian charity or courtesy : Avoid giving offence, 
or, as we might say, " Do not defy opinion." Eat what is 
set before you ; but if a person sitting at meat pointedly says 
to you, " This was offered to idols," do not eat. All things 
are lawful, but all things are not expedient, and this is one of 
the not expedient class. There appears to be a sort of in 
consistency in this advice, as there must always be incon 
sistency in the rules of practical life which are relative to 
circumstances. It might be said : " We cannot do one thing 
at one time, and another thing at another ; now be guided by 
another man s conscience, now by our own." It might be 
retorted : " Is not this the dissimulation which you blame in 
St. Peter?" To w r hich it may be answered in turn : " But a 
man may do one thing at one time, another thing at another 
time, becoming to the Jews a Jew, if he do it in such a 
manner as to avoid the risk of misconstruction." And this 
again admits of the retort : " Is it possible to avoid miscon 
struction ? Is it not better to dare to be ourselves, to act like 
ourselves, to speak like ourselves, to think like ourselves ? " 
We seem to have lighted unawares on two varieties of human 
disposition : the one harmonizing and adapting itself to the 
perplexities of life, the other rebelling against them, and seek 
ing to disentangle itself from them. Which side of this argu- 


ment shall we take ; neither, or both ? The Apostle appears 
to take both sides ; for in the abrupt transition that follows, 
lie immediately adds, " Why is my liberty to be judged of 
another man s conscience ? what right has another man to 
attack me for what I do in the innocence of my heart ? " It 
is good advice to say, " Regard the opinions of others " ; and 
equally good advice to say, " Do not regard the opinions of 
others." We must balance between two; and over all, ad 
justing the scales, is the law of Christian love. 

Both in 1 Cor. viii. and Rom. xiv. the Apostle adds another 
principle, which may be termed the law of individual con 
science, which we must listen to in ourselves and regard in 
others. " He that doubteth is damned ; whatsoever is not of 
faith is sin." All things are lawful to him who feels them to 
be lawful, but the conscience may be polluted by the most in 
different things. When we eat, we should remember that 
the consequence of following our example may be serious to 
others. For not only may our brother be offended at us, but 
also by our example be drawn into sin ; that is, to do what, 
though indifferent in itself, is sin to him. And so the weak 
brother, for whom Christ died, may perish through our fault ; 
that is, he may lose his peace and harmony of soul and con 
science void of offence, and all through our heedlessness in do 
ing some unnecessary thing, which were far better left undone. 

Cases may be readily imagined, in which, like the preced 
ing, the rule of conduct here laid down by the Apostle would 
involve dissimulation. So many thousand scruples and opin 
ions as there are in the world, we should have to go out of 
the world to fulfil it honestly. All reserve, it may be ar 
gued, tends to break up the confidence between man and 
man ; and there are times in which concealment of our opin 
ions, even respecting things indifferent, would be treacherous 
and mischievous ; there are times, too, in which things cease 
to be indifferent, and it is our duty to speak out respecting the 
false importance which they have acquired. But, after all 
qualifications of this kind have been made, the secondary 
duty yet remains, of consideration for others, which should 


form an element in our conduct. If truth is the first principle 
of our speech and action, the good of others should, at any 
rate, be the second. " If any man (not see thee who hast 
knowledge sitting in the idol s temple, but) hear thee discours 
ing rashly of the Scriptures and the doctrines of the Church, 
shall not the faith of thy younger brother become confused ? 
and his conscience being weak shall cease to discern between 
good and evil. And so thy weak brother shall perish for 
whom Christ died." 

The Apostle adds a fourth principle, which may be termed 
the law of Christian freedom, as the last solution of the diffi 
culty : " Therefore, whether ye eat or drink, do all to the 
glory of God." From the perplexities of casuistry, and the 
conflicting rights of a man s own conscience and that of an 
other, he falls back on the simple rule, " Whatever you do, 
sanctify the act." It cannot be said that all contradictory 
obligations vanish the moment we try to act with simplicity 
and truth ; we cannot change the current of life and its cir 
cumstances by a wish or an intention ; we cannot dispel that 
which is without, though we may clear that which is within. 
But we have taken the first step, and are in the way to solve 
the riddle. The insane scruple, the fixed idea, the ever- 
increasing doubt begins to pass away ; the spirit of the child 
returns to us ; the mind is again free, and the road of life 
open. "Whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of 
God " ; that is, determine to seek only the will of God, and 
you may have a larger measure of Christian liberty allowed 
to you ; things, perhaps, wrong in others may be right for 

The law, then, of Christian prudence, using that modera 
tion which we show in things pertaining to this life ; or the 
law of Christian charity, resolving and, as it were, absorbing 
our scruples in the love of other men ; or the law of the 
individual conscience, making that right to a man, in matters 
in themselves indifferent, which seems to be so ; or the law 
of freedom, giving us a spirit, instead of a letter, and enlarg 
ing the first principles of the doctrine of Christ ; or all 


together, shall furnish the doubting believer with a sufficient 
rule of faith and conduct. Even the law of Christian charity 
is a rule of freedom rather than of restraint, in proportion as 
it places men above questions of meats and drinks, and en 
ables them to regard such disputes only by the light of love 
to God and man. For there is a tyranny which even free 
dom may exercise, when it makes us intolerant of other men s 
difficulties. "Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is 
liberty " ; but there is also a liberty without the Spirit of the 
Lord. To eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man ; but 
to denounce those who do, or do not do so, may, in St. Paul s 
language, cause, not only the weak brother, but him that 
fancieth he standeth, to fall ; and so, in a false endeavor to 
preach the Gospel of Christ, men "may perish for whom 
Christ died." 

The general rule of the Apostle is, " Neither circumcision 
availeth anything, nor uncircumcision " ; " neither if we eat not 
are we the better, neither if we eat are we the worse." But 
then " all things are lawful, but all things are not expedient," 
even in reference to ourselves, and still more as we are mem 
bers one of another. There is a further counsel of prudence : 
" Receive such an one, but not to the determination of his 
doubts." And lastly, as the guide to the spirit of our actions, 
remember the words: "I will eat no meat as long as the 
world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." 

Questions of meats and drinks, of eating with washen or 
unwashen hands, have passed from the stage of religious 
ordinances, to that of proprieties and decencies of life. Nei 
ther the purifications of the law of Moses, nor the seven pre 
cepts of Noah, are any longer binding upon Christians. 
Nature herself teaches all things necessary for health and 
comfort. But the spirit of casuistry in every age finds fresh 
materials to employ itself upon, laying hold of some question 
of a new moon or a Sabbath, some fragment of antiquity, 
some inconsistency of custom, some subtlety of thought, som^ 
nicety of morality, analyzing and dividing the actions of daily 


life ; separating the letter from the spirit, and words from 
things ; winding its toils around the infirmities of the weak, 
and linking itself to the sensibility of the intellect. Out of 
this labyrinth of the soul the believer finds his way, by keep 
ing his eye fixed on that landmark which the Apostle himself 
has set up : "In Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth 
anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature." 

There is no one probably, of any religious experience, who 
has not at times felt the power of a scrupulous conscience. 
In speaking of a scrupulous conscience, the sense of remorse 
for greater offences is not intended to be included. These 
may press more or less heavily on the soul ; and the remem 
brance of them may ingrain themselves, with different de 
grees of depth, on different temperaments ; but whether deep 
or shallow, the sorrow for them cannot be brought under the 
head of scruples of conscience. There are "many things in 
which we offend all," about which there can be no mistake, 
the impression of which on our minds it would be fatal to 
weaken or do away. But quite independently of real sorrows 
for sin, most religious persons in the course of their lives have 
felt unreal scruples or difficulties, or exaggerated real but 
slight ones ; they have abridged their Christian freedom, and 
thereby their means of doing good ; they have cherished 
imaginary obligations, and artificially hedged themselves in a 
particular course of action. Honor or truth seems to be at 
stake about trifles light as air, or conscience has become a 
burden too heavy for them to bear in some doubtful matter of 
conduct. Scruples of this kind are ever liable to increase : 
as one vanishes, another appears ; the circumstances of the 
world and of the Church, and even the complication of mod 
ern society, have a tendency to create them. The very form 
in which they come is of itself sufficient to put us on our 
guard against them ; for we can give no account of them to 
ourselves ; they are seldom affected by the opinion of others ; 
they are more often put down by the exercise of authority 
than by reasoning or judgment. They gain hold on the 
weaker sort of men, or on those not naturally weak, in 

CAsuisTKr. 309 

moments of weakness. They often run counter to our wish 
or interest, and for this very reason acquire a kind of tenacity. 
They seem innocent mistakes, at worst on the safe side, char 
acteristic of the ingenuousness of youth, or indicative of a 
heart uncorrupted by the world. But this is not so. Crea 
tures as we are of circumstances, we cannot safely afford to 
give up things indifferent, means of usefulness, instruments of 
happiness to ourselves, which may affect our lives and those 
of our children to the latest posterity. There are few greater 
dangers in religion than the indulgence of such scruples, the 
consequences of which can never be seen until too late, and 
which affect the moral character of a man at least as much 
as his temporal interests. 

Strange as it may appear, it is nevertheless true, that 
scruples about lesser matters almost always involve some 
dereliction of duty in greater and more obvious ones. A 
tender conscience is a conscience unequal to the struggles of 
life. At first sight it seems as if, when lesser duties were 
cared for, the greater would take care of themselves. But 
this is not the lesson which experience teaches. In our moral, 
as in our physical nature, we are finite beings, capable only 
of a certain degree of tension, ever liable to suffer disorder 
and derangement, to be over-exercised in one part and weak 
ened in another. No one can fix his mind intently on a 
trifling scruple, or become absorbed in an eccentric fancy, 
without finding the great principles of truth and justice in 
sensibly depart from him. He has been looking through a 
microscope at life, and cannot take in its general scope. The 
moral proportions of things are lost to him ; the question of a 
new moon or a Sabbath has taken the place of diligence or of 
honesty. There is no limit to the illusions which he may 
practise on himself. There are those, all whose interests and 
prejudices at once take the form of duties and scruples, partly 
from dishonesty, but also from weakness, and because that is 
the form in which they can with the best grace maintain 
them against other men, and conceal their true nature from 



Scruples are dangerous in another way, as they tend to 
drive men into a corner in which the performance of our 
duty becomes so difficult as to be almost impossible. A vir 
tuous and religious life does not consist merely in abstaining 
from evil, but in doing what is good. It has to find oppor 
tunities and occasions for itself, without which i{ languishes. 
A man has a scruple about the choice of a profession ; as a 
Christian, he believes war to be unlawful ; in familiar lan 
guage, he has doubts respecting orders, difficulties about the 
law. Even the ordinary ways of conducting trade appear 
deficient to his nicer sense of honesty ; or perhaps he has 
already entered on one of these lines of life, and finds it 
necessary to quit it. At last, there comes the difficulty of 
" how he is to live." There cannot be a greater mistake than 
to suppose that a good resolution is sufficient in such a case 
to carry a man through a long life. 

But even if we suppose the case of one who is endowed 
with every earthly good and instrument of prosperity, who 
can afford, as is sometimes said, to trifle with the opportuni 
ties of life, still the mental consequences will be hardly less 
injurious to him. For he who feels scruples about the ordi 
nary enjoyments and occupations of his fellows, does so far 
cut himself off from his common nature. He is an isolated 
being, incapable of acting with his fellow-men. There are 
plants which, though the sun shine upon them, and the dews 
water them, peak and pine from some internal disorder, and 
appear to have no sympathy with the influences around them. 
So is the mind corroded by scruples of conscience. It cannot 
expand to sun or shower ; it belongs not to the world of light ; 
it has no intelligence of, or harmony with, mankind around. 
It is insensible to the great truth, that though we may not do 
evil that good may come, yet that good and evil, truth and 
falsehood, are bound together on earth, and that we cannot 
separate ourselves from them. 

It is one of the peculiar dangers of scruples of conscience, 
that the consequence of giving way to them is never felt at 
the time that they press upon us. When the mind is worried 


by a thought secretly working in it, and its trial becomes 
greater than it can bear, it is eager to take the plunge in life 
that may put it out of its misery ; to throw aside a profession 
it may be, or to enter a new religious communion. We shall 
not be wrong in promising ourselves a few weeks of peace 
and placid enjoyment. The years that are to follow we are 
incapable of realizing : whether the weary spirit will require 
some fresh posture, will invent for itself some new doubt ; 
whether its change is a return to nature or not, it is impossi 
ble for us to anticipate. Whether it has in itself that hidden 
strength which, under every change of circumstances, is capa 
ble of bearing up, is a question which we are the least able to 
determine for ourselves. In general we may observe, that 
the weakest minds and those least capable of enduring such 
consequences, are the most likely to indulge the scruples. 
We know beforehand the passionate character, the active yet 
half-reasoning intellect, which falls under the power of such 

In the Apostolic Church " cases of conscience " arose out 
of religious traditions, and what may be termed the cere 
monial cast of the age ; in modern times the most frequent 
source of them may be said to be the desire of logical or 
practical consistency, such as is irreconcilable with the mixed 
state of human affairs and the feebleness of the human intel 
lect. There is no lever like the argument from consistency, 
with which to bring men over to our opinions. A particular 
system or view, Calvinism perhaps, or Catholicism, has taken 
possession of the mind. Shall we stop short of pushing its 
premises to their conclusions? Shall we stand in the mid 
way, where we are liable to be over-ridden by the combatants 
on either side in the struggle ? Shall we place ourselves 
between our reason and our affections ; between our practical 
duties and our intellectual convictions ? Logic would have us 
go forward, and take our stand at the most advanced point, 
we are there already, it is urged, if we were true to ourselves, 
but feeling, and habit, and common sense bid us stay where 
we are, unable to give an account of ourselves, yet convinced 


that we are right. We may listen to the one voice, we may 
listen also to the other. The true way of guiding either is 
to acknowledge both; to use them for a time against each 
other, until experience of life and of ourselves has taught us 
to harmonize them in a single principle. 

So, again, in daily life cases often occur, in which we must 
do as other men do, and act upon a general understanding, 
even though unable to reconcile a particular practice to the 
letter of truthfulness or even to our individual conscience. It 
is hard in such cases to lay down a definite rule. But in 
general we should -be suspicious of any conscientious scruples 
in which other good men do not share. We shall do right to 
make a large allowance for the perplexities and entanglements 
of human things ; we shall observe that men of strong minds 
brush away our scruples ; we shall consider that not he who 
has most, but he who has fewest scruples, approaches most 
nearly the true Christian. For, as the Apostle says, " What- 
soever is not of faith is sin " ; and " Blessed is he who con- 
demneth not himself in that which he alloweth. 

So far we seem to arrive at a general conclusion h ke St. 
Paul s : " Whether ye eat or drink, do all to the glory of 
God " ; " Have the spirit of truth, and the truth shall make 
you free " ; and the entanglements of words and the perplexi 
ties of action shall disappear. But there is another way in 
which such difficulties have been resolved, which meets them 
in detail ; namely, the practice of confession, and the rules of 
casuistry which are the guides of the confessor. When the 
spirit is disordered within us, it may be urged that we ought 
to go out of ourselves and confess our sins one to another. 
But he who leads, and he who is led, alike require some rules 
for the examination of conscience, to quicken or moderate the 
sense of sin, to assist experience, to show men to themselves 
as they really are, neither better nor worse. Hence the 
necessity for casuistry. 

It is remarkable, that what is in idea so excellent that it 
may be almost described in St. Paul s language as " holy, 
just, and good," should have become a by-word among man- 


kind for hypocrisy and dishonesty. In popular estimation, no 
one is supposed to resort to casuistry but with the view of 
evading a duty. The moral instincts of the world have risen 
up and condemned it ; corruptio optimi pessima. Bad as it 
is, it has a good side, which is the chief source of its influence. 
It will be proper for us to consider it from both sides, in its 
origin, and in its perversion. Why it existed, and why it has 
failed, furnish a lesson in the history of the human mind of 
importance and instruction. 

The unseen power by which the systems of the casuists 
were brought into being was the necessity of the Roman 
Catholic Church. Like the allegorical interpretation of Scrip 
ture, they formed a link between the present and the past. 
At the time of the Reformation the doctrines of the ancient, 
no less than of the Reformed faith awakened into life. But 
they required to be put in a new form, to reconcile them to 
the moral sense of mankind. Luther ended the work of self- 
examination by casting all his sins on Christ, But the 
casuists could not thus meet Ihe awakening of men s con 
sciences and the fearful looking for judgment. They had to 
deal with an altered world, in which the spectres of the past, 
purgatory, penance, mortal sin, were again rising up. Hal 
lowed as they were by authority and antiquity, they could not 
cast them aside, they could but explain them away. If they 
had placed distinctly before men s eyes, that for some one act 
of immorality or dishonesty they were in a state of mortal 
sin, the heart true to itself would have recoiled from such a 
doctrine, and the connection between the Church and the 
world would have been for ever severed. And yet the doc 
trine was a part of ecclesiastical tradition ; it could not be 
held, it could not be given up. The Jesuits escaped the 
dilemma by holding and evading it. 

So far it would not be untrue to say, that casuistry had 
originated in an effort to reconcile the Roman Catholic faith 
with nature and experience. The Roman system was, if 
strictly carried out, horrible and impossible ; a doctrine not, 
as it has been sometimes described, of salvation made easy, 


but of universal condemnation. From these fearful conclu 
sions of logic the subtlety of the human intellect was now to 
save it. The analogy of law, as worked out by jurists and 
canonists, supplied the means. What was repugnant to hu 
man justice could not be agreeable to Divine. The scholastic 
philosophy, which had begun to die out and fade away before 
the light of classical learning, was to revive in a new form, 
no longer hovering between heaven and earth, out of the 
reach of experience, yet below the region of spiritual truth, 
but, as it seemed, firmly based in the life and actions of man 
kind. It was the same sort of wisdom which defined the 
numbers and order of the celestial hierarchy, which was now 
to be adapted to the infinite modifications of which the actions 
of men are capable. 

It is obvious that there are endless points of view in which 
the simplest duties may be regarded. Common sense says, 
" A man is to be judged by his acts," " There can be no mis 
take about a lie," and so on. The casuists proceed by a 
different road. Fixing the mind, not on the simplicity, but 
on the intricacy of human action, in the hope of gaining sim 
plicity they study every point of view, and introduce every 
conceivable distinction. A first most obvious distinction i 
that of the intention and the act ; ought the one to be sepa 
rated from the other? The law itself .seems to teach that 
this may hardly be ; rather the intention is held to be that 
which gives form and color to the act. Then the act by itself 
is nothing, and the intention by itself almost innocent. As 
we play between the two different points of view, the act and 
the intention together evanesce. But, secondly, as we con 
sider the intention, must we not also consider the circumstances 
of the agent ? For, plainly, a being deprived of free-will ran- 
not be responsible for his actions. Place him in thought 
under the conditions of a necessary agent, and his actions are 
innocent. Or suppose a man ignorant, or half ignorant, of 
what is the teaching of the Church, or the law of the land, 
here another abstract point of view arises, leading us out of 
the region of common sense to difficult and equitable con- 


fiiderations, which may be determined fairly, but which we 
have the greatest motive to decide in flavor of ourselves. Or 
again, try to conceive an act without reference to its conse 
quences, or in reference to some single consequence, without 
regarding it as a violation of morality or of nature, or in 
reference solely to the individual conscience. Or imagine 
the will half consenting to, half withdrawing from its act ; or 
acting by another, or in obedience to another, or with some 
good object, or under the influence of some imperfect obli 
gation, or of opposite obligations. Even conscience itself may 
be at last played off against the plainest truths. 

By the aid of such distinctions the simplest principles of 
morality multiply to infinity. An instrument has been intro 
duced of such subtlety and elasticity that it can accommodate 
the canons of the Church to any consciences, to any state of 
the world. Sin need no longer be confined to the dreadful 
distinction of mortal and venial sin ; it has lost its infinite and 
mysterious character ; it has become a thing of degrees, to 
be aggravated or mitigated in idea, according to the expe 
diency of the case or the pliability of the confessor. It be 
comes difficult to perpetrate a perfect sin. No man need die 
of despair ; in some page of the writings of the casuists will 
be found a distinction suited to his case. And this without in 
any degree interfering with a single doctrine of the Church, 
or withdrawing one of its anathemas against heresy. 

The system of casuistry, destined to work such great re 
sults, in reconciling the Church to the world, and to human 
nature, like a torn web, needing to be knit together, may be 
regarded as a science or profession. It is a classification of 
human actions, made in one sense without any reference to 
practice. For nothing was further from the mind of the casuist 
than to inquire whether a particular distinction would have a 
good or bad effect, was liable to perversion or not. His object 
was only to make such distinctions as the human mind was 
capable of perceiving and acknowledging. As to the physi 
ologist objects in themselves loathsome and disgusting may be 
of the deepest interest, so to the casuist the foulest and most 


loathsome vices of mankind are not matters of abhorrence, 
but of science, to be arranged and classified, just like any 
other varieties of human action. It is true that the study of 
the teacher was not supposed to be also open to the penitent. 
But it inevitably followed that the spirit of the teacher com 
municated itself to the taught. He could impart no high or 
exalted idea of morality or religion, who was measuring it 
out, as it were, by inches, not deepening men s idea of sin, 
but attenuating it, and doing away its awful and mysterious 

The science was further complicated by the " doctrine of 
probability," which consisted in making anything approved or 
approvable that was confirmed by authority ; even as was 
said by some of a single casuist. That could not be very 
wrong which a wise and good man had once thought to be 
right, a better than ourselves perhaps, surveying the cir 
cumstances calmly and impartially. Who would wish that 
the rule of his daily life should go beyond that of a saint 
and doctor of the Church ? Who would require such a rule 
to be observed by another ? Who would refuse another such 
an escape out of the labyrinth of human difficulties and per 
plexities ? As in all the Jesuit distinctions, there was a kind 
of reasonableness in the theory of this ; it did but go on the 
principle of cutting short scruples by the rule of common 

And yet what a door was here opened for the dishonesty of 
mankind ! The science itself had dissected moral action until 
nothing of life or meaning remained in it. It had thrown 
aside, at the same time, the natural restraint which the moral 
sense itself exercises in determining such questions. And 
now for the application of this system, so difficult and com 
plicated in itself, so incapable of receiving any check from 
the opinions of mankind, the authority, not of the Church, but 
of individuals, was to be added as a new lever to overthrow 
the last remains of natural religion and morality. 

The marvels of thia science are not yet ended. For the 
same changes admit of being rung upon speech as well aa 


apon action, until truth and falsehood become alike impossible. 
Language itself dissolved before the decomposing power ; 
oaths, like actions, vanish into air when separated from the 
intention of the speaker ; the shield of custom protects false 
hood. It would be a curious though needless task to follow 
the subject into further details. He who has read one page 
of the casuists has read all. There is nothing that is not 
right in some particular point of view, nothing that is not 
true under some previous supposition. 

Such a system might be left to refute itself. Those who 
have strayed so far away from truth and virtue are self- 
condemned. Yet it is not without interest to trace by what 
false lights of philosophy or religion good men, revolting 
themselves at the commission of evil, were led, step by step, 
to the unnatural result. We should expect to find that such a 
result had originated, not in any settled purpose to corrupt the 
morals of mankind, but in an intellectual error ; and we could 
hardly avoid reflecting how fearfully and wonderfully our 
moral nature was composed, when an intellectual error had 
the power to produce such consequences. Such we find to be 
the fact. The conception of moral action on which the sys 
tem depends, is as erroneous and imperfect as that of the 
scholastic philosophy respecting the nature of ideas. 

1. It ignores the difference between thought and action. 
Actions are necessarily external. The spoken word con 
stitutes the lie ; the outward performance, the crime. The 
highest wisdom, it is true, has identified the two. " He that 
looketh on a woman to lust after her hath already committed 
adultery with her in his heart." But this is not the rule by 
which we are to judge our past actions, but to guard our 
future ones. He who has thoughts of lust or passion is not 
innocent in the sight of God, and is liable to be carried on to 
perform the act on which he suffers himself to dwell. And, 
in looking forward, he will do well to remember this caution 
of Christ ; but in looking backward, in thinking of others, in 
endeavoring to estimate die actual amount of guilt or tres 
pass, if he begins by placing thought on the level of action, 


he will end by placing action on the level of thought. It 
would be a monstrous state of mind in which we regarded 
mere imagination of evil as the same with action ; hatred as 
the same with murder ; thoughts of impurity as the same 
with adultery. It is not so that we must learn Christ. Ac 
tions are one thing, and thoughts another, in the eye of con 
science, no less than of the law of the land ; of God as well 
as man. Morality ventures a little way into the spiritual 
world ; it would be apt to lose its nature if it went further. 
However important it may be to us to remember that the all- 
seeing eye of God tries the reins, it is no less important to 
remember also that morality consists in definite acts, capable 
of being seen and judged of by our fellow-creatures, impossi 
ble to escape ourselves. 

2. It is quite true that actions the same in name, are, 
in the scale of right and wrong, as different as can be im 
agined ; varying with the age, temperament, education, cir 
cumstances of each individual. The casuist is not in fault 
for maintaining this difference, but for supposing that he can 
classify or distinguish them so as to give any conception of 
their innumerable shades and gradations. All his folios are 
but the weary effort to abstract or make a brief of the indi 
viduality of man. The very actions which he classifies 
change their nature as he writes them down. Know our 
selves we sometimes truly may, but we cannot know others, 
and no other can know us. No other can know or under 
stand us in the same wonderful or mysterious way ; no other 
can be conscious of the spirit in which we have lived. No 
other can see that which is within. God has placed a veil of 
flesh between ourselves and other men, to screen the naked 
ness of our soul. Into the secret chamber he does not require 
that we should admit any other judge or counsellor but him 
self. Two eyes only are upon us, the eye of our own souJ, 
the eye of God, and the one is assisted by the other. The 
knowledge which they give us of our own nature is different 
in kind from that which the confessor extracts from the books 
of the casuists. 


3. There are many cases in which our first thoughts, or, to 
speak more correctly, our instinctive perceptions, are true and 
right ; in which it is not too much to say, that he who delib 
erates is lost. The very act of turning to a book, or referring 
to another, enfeebles our power of action. In the arts we pro 
duce an effect, we know not how, by some simultaneous move 
ment of hand and thought, which seem to lend to each other 
force and meaning. So in moral action, the true view does not 
separate the intention from the act, or the act from the cir 
cumstances which surround it, but regards them as one and 
absolutely indivisible. In the performance of the act and in 
the judgment of it, the will and the execution, the hand and 
the thought, are to be considered as one. Those who act 
most energetically, who in difficult circumstances judge the 
most truly, do not separately pass in review the rules, and 
principles, and counter-principles of action, but grasp them at 
once, in a single instant. Those who act most truthfully, 
honestly, firmly, manfully, consistently, take least time to 
deliberate. Such should be the attitude of our minds in all 
questions of right and wrong, truth and falsehood : we may 
not inquire, but act. 

4. Casuistry not only renders us independent of our own con 
victions, it renders us independent also of the opinion of man 
kind in general. It puts the confessor in the place of ourselves, 
and in the place of the world. By making the actions of men 
matters of science, it cuts away the supports and safeguards 
which public opinion gives to morality. The confessor, in the 
silence of the closet, easily introduces principles from which 
the common sense or conscience of mankind would have 
shrunk back. Especially in matters of truth and falsehood, 
in the nice sense of honor shown in the unwillingness to get 
others within our power, his standard will probably fall short 
of that of the world at large. Public opinion, it is true, 
drives men s vices inwards ; it teaches them to conceal their 
faults from others, and if possible from themselves, and this 
very concealment may sink them in despair, or cover them 
with self-deceit. Yet the good of this is, on the whole, greater 


than the evil. Not only is the outward aspect of society 
more decorous, and the confidence between man and man less 
liable to be impaired, but the mere fact of men s sins being 
known to themselves and God only, and the support afforded 
even by the undeserved opinion of their fellows, are of them 
selves great helps to a moral and religious life. Many a one 
by being thought better than he was has become better ; by 
being thought as bad or worse, has become worse. To com 
municate our sins to those who have no right to know them 
is of itself a diminution of our moral strength. 


To conclude, the errors and evils of casuistry may be 
summed up as follows : It makes that abstract which is con 
crete, scientific which is contingent, artificial which is natural, 
positive which is moral, theoretical which is intuitive and 
immediate. It puts the parts in the place of the whole, ex 
ceptions in the place of rules, system in the place of expe 
rience, dependence in the place of responsibility, reflection in 
the place of conscience. It lowers the heavenly to the earth 
ly, the principles of men to their practice, the tone of the 
preacher to the standard of ordinary life. It sends us to 
another for that which can only be found in ourselves. It 
leaves the highway of public opinion, to wander in the laby 
rinths of an imaginary science ; the light of the world, for 
the darkness of the closet. It is to human nature what 
anatomy is to our bodily frame ; instead of a moral and 
spiritual being, preserving only " a body of death." 



u AN idol is nothing in the world," says the Apostle ; " yet 
he that commits fornication sins against his own body." It is 
foolishness to bow to an idol ; but immorality and licentious 
ness are real and essential evil. No mere outward act can 
make a man different from what he was before, while no in 
ward act can leave him the same after as before its perform 
ance. A belief about Jupiter or Hades is not necessarily 
inconsistent with truth and purity of life. The evils, whether 
of a heathen or of a Christian country, are not always asso 
ciated with the corruptions of religion. Whence, then, the 
connection often spoken of by theologians, and not unfelt by 
the heathen themselves, between immorality and idolatry ? 

It is first to be sought for in their origin. As the Chris 
tian religion may be regarded as the great pillar and rock of 
morality, so the heathen religions sprang up in an age prior 
to morality. We see men, in the dawn of the world s history, 
just raised above the worship of stocks and stones, " making 
themselves gods to go before them." These gods represent 
partly the maxims and opinions of uncivilized races, partly 
the actions and passions of mankind in general, partly the 
irregularity of the course of the world itself, the fearful law 
of which is the wayward fancy of heaven. Must not such 
an enthronement of injustice above tend to confuse and stunt 
the natural ideas of morality ? The God who had possession 


of the heart of man was a half physical, half demoniacal, 
and in part also human, being, who represented the vices of 
mankind on an ideal stage in aggravated proportions, yet not 
without a certain affinity to man himself. The worst side of 
humanity, the false notion of the order of the world, the 
capricious passions of individuals, the enmities of nations, 
were deified and perpetuated in him. Human nature grew 
and human beings spread over the earth ; but they ;arried 
with them, wherever they went, the weary load of super 
stition, the chains of servitude to their former beliefs, with 
which their separate existence as a nation seemed to be bound 
up. Far otherwise would it have been if the good of states, 
or the dictates of natural feeling and affection, had been made 
the standard to which religion was to conform. And accord 
ingly it has everywhere happened, that, as reflection has 
gained ground, or civilization spread, mankind have risen up 
against the barbarities of early mythology, either openly dis 
owning them or secretly explaining them away ; and thus in 
either case bearing witness that idolatry is not on a level 
with man s reason, but below it. In the case of the Greeks, 
especially, many of the grosser forms of religion disappeared 
from the light of day into the seclusion of the mysteries. 

But the connection between idolatry and immorality does 
not arise merely out of the degradation of the nature of God, 
or the consecration of the vices of one age, as examples for 
another. Idolatry is a sort of religious passion, almost on a 
level with a physical want, which from time to time bursts 
forth and gives rein to every other passion. In the presence 
of the gods themselves in the idol s temple, as the festive 
pomp passes, or the mystic hymn sounds, there is a place for 
sensuality. It is not repugnant, but acceptable to them, and 
a part of their service. Impure religious rites are not the 
invention of magicians or priests, but deeply rooted in human 
nature itself. Like every other impulse of man, sensual love 
seeks to find expression, and perceives likenesses and resem 
blances of itself in the world around. It is one of the ele 
ments of nature- worship, consecrated by antiquity, and in 


later times graced and half concealed by art. The deification 
of it belongs to the earliest, simplest, grossest forms of human 
belief. The introduction of the Bacchanalia at a compara 
tively late period in the history of Greece, and the attempted 
introduction of them at E >me, is an indication of the partial 
reawakening of the same religious passions when older modes 
af faith failed to satisfy them. Yet more monstrous forms of 
dvil arose when in things not to be named men seemed to see 
A likeness to the operations and powers of nature. The 
civilized Greek and Roman knew well that there were fren 
zies of religious licentiousness unworthy of a rational being, 
improper and dangerous for a government to allow. As East 
and West met and mingled, the more did these strange rites 
spread themselves, passing from Egypt and Phosnicia to 
Greece, from the mountains of Phrygia to the streets and 
temples of Home. 

But, besides this direct connection between idolatry and 
every form of moral evil, there is also an indirect and general 
influence which it exercised, even in its better form, adverse 
to morality. Not from religion, but from philosophy, come 
the higher aspirations of the human soul in Greece and Rome. 
Idoliitiy detains men in the world of sight ; it offers an out 
ward >onn to the eye and imagery to the fancy ; it draws the 
many-ooioied veil of art over the corruption of human nature. 
It heais tho strHe of man with himself superficially. It takes 
away the conscious want of the higher life, but leaves the real 
need. But morality has to do with an unseen world : it has 
no form nor conielme^s, when separated from the hope which 
the Gospel hoids out ; it is severe and stoical in its demands. 
It tells men to look within ; it deepens the battle with self. 
It presents duty almost as zn abstraction which in the face 
of death they must pursue, though there be no reward here, 
though their name perish for evermore. The spirit of all 
idolatry is the very opposite of this; it bids men rest in 
this world, it pacifies them about another. The nature of 
God, who is the ideal and perfection of all morality, it lowers 
to the level of mau ; the virtue which is above, the truth 


which is beyond us, it embodies in the likeness of the human 
form, or the wayward and grotesque fancies of the human 
mind. It bids us seek without for what can only be found 

There remains yet a further parallel to be drawn between 
immorality and idolatry in the age in which St. Paul himself 
lived, when the ancient religions had already begun to be 
discredited and explained away. At this time they had be 
come customs rather than beliefs, maxims of state, rather 
than opinions. It is, indeed, impossible to determine how far 
in any minds they commanded respect, or how much of the 
reverence that was refused to established modes of worship 
was accorded to the claims of newly-imported deities. They 
were in harmony with the outer world of the Roman Empire, 
that is, with its laws, institutions, traditions, buildings ; but 
strangely out of harmony with its inner life. No one turned 
to the mythology of Greece and Rome to find a rule of life. 
Perhaps no one had ever done so, but now least of all. Their 
hold was going or gone ; there was a space in the mind of 
man which they could not longer fill up, in which Stoic and 
Epicurean philosophers were free to walk ; the chill darkness 
.of which might receive a ray of light and warmth from the 
Alexandrian mystic ; where, too, true voices of philosophy 
and experience might faintly make themselves heard, and the 
heart ask itself and find its own solution of the problem, 
" What is truth ? " In all this latter period the relation of 
morality to religion might be said to be one of separation and 
antagonism. And, upon the whole, this very freedom was 
favorable to right and truth. It is difficult to determine how 
far the spectacle of a religion which has outlived its time 
may corrupt the moral sense, how far the necessary disbelief 
of an existing superstition tends to weaken arid undermine 
the intellectual faculties of mankind ; but there can be little 
doubt that it does so less than if it were still believed, and 
still ministered to the sensuality or ignorance of the world. 



Hvixa 8 &v fTTurrptyrj irpbs /cvpioi/, irepicupecrai TO Xw//a. 2 Cor. 
iii. 16. 

THUS we have reached another stage in the development 
of the great theme. The new commandment has become 
old; faith is taught in the Book of the Law. "Abraham 
had faith in God, and it was counted to him for righteous 
ness." David spoke of the forgiveness of sins in the very 
spirit of the Gospel. The Old Testament is not dead, but 
alive again. It refers not to the past, but to the present. 
There are the truths that we feel most deeply written for our 
instruction. There are the consciousness of sin, and the 
sense of acceptance. There is the veiled remembrance of a 
former world, which is also the veiled image of a future one. 
To us the Old and New Testaments are two books, or two 
parts of the same book, which fit into one another, and can 
never be separated or torn asunder. They double one 
against the other, and the New Testament is the revelation 
of the Old. To the first believers it was otherwise : as yet 
there was no New Testament ; nor is there any trace that 
the authors of the New Testament ever expected their own 
writings to be placed on a level with the Old. We can 
scarcely imagine what would have been the feeling of St, 
Paul, could he have foreseen that later ages would look, not 
to the faith of Abraham in the Law, but to the Epistle to the 
Romans, as the highest authority on the doctrine of justifica 
tion by faith ; or that they would have regarded the allegory 


of Hagar and Sarah, in the Galatians, as a difficulty to be 
resolved by the inspiration of the Apostle. Neither he who 
wrote, nor those to whom he wrote, could ever have thought, 
that words which were meant for a particular church were to 
give life also to all mankind ; and that the Epistles in which 
they occurred were one day to be placed on a level with the 
Books of Moses themselves. 

But if the writings of the New Testament were regarded 
by the contemporaries of the Apostle in a- manner diiferent 
from that of later ages, there was a difference which it is far 
more difficult for us to appreciate, in their manner of reading 
the Old Testament. To them it was not half, but the whole, 
needing nothing to be added to it or to counteract it, but con 
taining everything in itself. It seemed to come home to 
them ; to be meant specially for their age ; to be understood 
by them as its words had never been understood before. 
" Did not their hearts burn within them ? " as the Apostles 
expounded to them the Psalms and Prophets. The manner 
of this exposition was that of the age in which they lived. 
They brought to the understanding of it, not a knowledge of 
the volume of the New Testament, but the mind of Christ. 
Sometimes they found the lesson which they sought in the 
plain language of Scripture ; at other times, coming round to 
the same lesson by the paths of allegory, or seeming even in 
the sound of a word to catch an echo of the Redeemer s 
name. Various as are the writings of the Old Testament, 
composed by such numerous authors, at so many different 
times, so diverse in style and subject, in them all they read 
only the truth of Christ. They read without distinctions of 
moral and ceremonial, type and antitype, history or prophecy, 
without critical inquiries into the original meaning of passages, 
without theories of the relation of the Old and New Testa 
ments. Whatever contrast existed was of another kind, not 
of the parts of a book, but of the law and faith ; of the earlier 
and later dispensations. The words of the book were all 
equally for their instruction; the whole volume lighted up 
with new meaning. 



They read the Old Testament after the manner of their 
age, and found every ^rse suggestive of the circumstances 
of the Church, and of the life and death of Christ. Are we 
doing more than following their example, if we read the 
Scriptures by the light of those principles, whether of criti 
cism or of morality, which, in our own age, we cannot but 
feel and know, and of which it is as impossible for us to divest 
ourselves, as it would have been for them to fail of seeing 
Christ in the lives of the Patriarchs ? 



THE New Testament is ever old, and the Old is ever en 
twined with the New. Not only are the types of the Old 
Testament shadows of good things to come ; not only are the 
narratives of events and lives of persons in Jewish history 
" written for our instruction " ; not only is there a deep-rooted 
identity of the Old and New Testament in the revelation of 
one God of perfect justice and truth ; not only is " the law 
fulfilled in Christ to all them that believe " ; not only are the 
spiritual Israel the true people of God : a still nearer, though 
more superficial connection is formed by the volume of the 
Old Testament itself, which, like some closely-fitting vesture, 
enfolds the new as well as the old dispensation in its language 
and imagery, the words themselves, as well as the thoughts 
contained in them, becoming instinct with a new life, and 
seeming to interpenetrate with the Gospel. 

This verbal connection of new and old is not peculiar to 
Christianity. All nations who have ancient writings have 
endeavored to read in them the riddle of the past. The 
Brahmin, repeating his Vedic hymns, sees them pervaded by 
a thousand meanings, which have been handed down by tra 
dition : the one of which he is ignorant is that which we 
perceive to be the true one. Without more reason, and 
almost with an equal disregard or neglect of its natural im 
port, the Jewish Alexandrian and Rabbinical writers analyzed 


the Old Testament; in a similar spirit Gnostics and Neo- 
platonists cited lines of Homer or Pindar. Not unlike is the 
way in which the Fathers cite both the Old and New Testa 
ment ; and the manner in which the writers of the New 
Testament quote from the Old has more in common with this 
last than with modern critical interpretations of either. That 
is to say, the quotations are made almost always without 
reference to the connection in which they originally occur, 
and in a different sense from that in which the Prophet or 
Psalmist intended them. They are fragments culled out and 
brought into some new combination ; jewels, and precious 
stones, and corner-stones disposed after a new pattern, to be 
the ornaments of another temple. It is their place in that 
new temple, not their relation to the old, which gives them 
their effect and meaning. 

Such " tessellated work " was after the manner of the age : 
it was no new invention or introduction of the sacred writers. 
Closely as it is wrought into the New Testament, it belongs 
to its externals rather than to its true life. There are few, 
if any, traces of it in the discourses of our Lord himself, 
though it frequently recurs in the comments of the Evan 
gelists. The fact that all religions which are possessed of 
sacred books, and many even without them, have passed 
through a like secondary stage, however different may have 
been their relation to the earlier forms of the same religions 
from that in which the Gospel stands to the Old Testament, 
leads us to regard this verbal connection as a phenomenon of 
the mind which may receive light from heathen parallels. 
There seem to be times in which human nature yearns toward 
the past, though it has lost the power of interpreting it 
Overlooking the chasm of a thousand years, it seeks to ex 
tract from ancient writings food for daily life. The mystery 
of a former world lies heavy upon it, hardly less than of 
the future, and it lightens this burden by attributing to " them 
of old time " the thoughts and feelings of contemporaries. 
It feels the unity of God and man in all ages, and it attempts 
to prove this unity by reading the same thoughts in every 


word which has been uttered from the beginning. Even the 
words themselves it will sometimes alter in conformity with 
the new spirit which appears to pervade them. 

The Gnostic and Alexandrian writings are a meeting-point 
between the past and the future, in which the present is lost 
sight of, and ideas supersede facts. But something analogous 
is observable in the New Testament itself; which may be 
described also as the meeting-point of past and future on the 
ground of the present, taking its origin, not from ideas, but 
facts. The mode of thought of the age by which the old is 
ever new, and the new ever entwined with the old, is common 
to both ; and language, equally with thought, seems to relax 
its bonds, and lose those harder lines of demarcation and 
definition which make it incapable of spiritual life. Grad 
ually and naturally, as it were a soul entering into a body 
that had been prepared for it, the new takes the form of the 
old. Yet the very truth and power of the Gospel prevent 
this new creation from resembling the fantastic process of 
Eastern heresy. The writers of the New Testament adopt 
the modes of speech and citation of their age, but they also 
ennoble and enlighten them. That traces of their age should 
appear in them is the necessary condition of their speaking 
to the men of their age. To mankind then, as to individuals 
now, God would have us speak in a language that they can 

Still, however striking may be the superficial similarity, 
essential differences lie beneath. There are three points 
which may be said to distinguish the manner in which the 
Old Testament is quoted in the New, from the manner in 
which early poets are quoted by heathen writers, or the 
Old Testament itself by Alexandrian or Christian authors. 
First, the Old Testament looks forward to the New, as the 
New Testament looks backward on the Old. Reading the 
Psalmists or Prophets, even with the veil on our eyes, which 
was also on theirs, we cannot but feel that they were pil 
grims and strangers, looking for more than was on the earth, 
whose sadness was not yet turned into joy. There are 


passages in which the Old Testament goes beyond itself, in 
which it almost seems to renounce itself; even solitary ex 
pressions, of which it might be said, either in Christian or 
heathen language, " that it speaks not of itself" ; or, that 
" its voice reaches to a thousand years." It is otherwise with 
heathen literature. There is no future to which Homer or 
Hesiod looked forward ; no higher moral truth beyond them 
selves which they dimly see. The life of the world was not 
to awaken in their song. They were poetry only, out of 
which came statues of gods and heroes. Secondly, if the 
connection between the Old and New Testament be on the 
surface arbitrary, or, more properly speaking, after the man 
ner of the age, that deeper connection which lies below is 
founded on reason and conscience. The language of the 
greater part of the Old Testament is the natural, may we not 
say the most true and inward, expression of Christian feeling. 
In the hour of sorrow, or joy, or repentance, or triumph, we 
seem to turn to the Old Testament even more readily than 
to the New. Thirdly and lastly, not to speak of the great 
difference in degree, a difference in kind is observable be 
tween the way in which quotations .are made use of by the 
Alexandrian writers and in the New Testament. In the one 
they are the form of thought ; in the other, the mode of ex 
pression. That is to say, while in the one they exercise an 
influence on the thought ; in the other, they are controlled by 
it, and are but a sort of incrustation on it, or ornament of it ; 
in some cases the illustration or allegory through which it is 
conveyed. The writings of St. Paul are not the less one in 
feeling and spirit because the language in which he con 
tinually clothes his thoughts is either avowedly or uncon 
sciously taken from the Old Testament. 

Even in our own use of quotations we may observe a sort 
of necessary inconsistency which illustrates the mode of cita 
tion in the New Testament. We resort to quotation not only 
as an ingenious device for expressing our meaning ; it is also 
an appeal to an authority. And yet its point or force fre 
quently consists in a slight, or even a great, deviation from 


the sense in which a quotation was uttered by its author. 
Its aptness lies in its being at once old and new ; often in 
bringing into juxtaposition things so remote, that we should 
not have imagined they were connected ; sometimes in a word 
rather than in a sentence, even in the substitution of a word, 
or in a logical inference not wholly warranted. 

Something analogous to this we find in the quotations of 
the New Testament. They unite a kind of authority with a 
new interpretation of the passage quoted. Sometimes the 
application of them is a sort of argument from their exact 
rhetorical or even grammatical form. Their connection often 
hangs upon a word, and there are passages in which the word 
on which the connection turns is itself inserted. There are 
citations too, which are a composition of more than one 
passage, in which the spirit is taken from one and the words 
from another. There are other citations in which a simi 
larity of spirit, rather than of language, is caught up and 
made use of by the Apostle. There are passages which are 
altered to suit the meaning given to them ; or in which the 
spirit of the New Testament is substituted for that of the 
Old ; or the spirit of the Old Testament expands into that 
of the New. Lastly, there are passages, though but few of 
them occur in the writings of St. Paul, which have one sense 
in the Old Testament, and have an entirely different or 
opposite one in the New. Almost all gradations occur be 
tween exact verbal correspondence with the Greek of the 
LXX. ; and discrepancy in which resemblance is all but lost : 
between the greatest similarity and difference, almost oppo 
sition, of spirit in the original passage and its application. 
In no passage in the Epistles of St. Paul is there any 
certain evidence that the first connection was present to the 
Apostle s mind. 

The quotations in the writings of St. Paul may be classi 
fied under the following heads : 

I. Passages in which (a.) the meaning, and (/3.) the words 
of the Old Testament are altered, or (y.) both : the altera 
tions, sometimes arising from no assignable cause, sometimes 
from a composition of passages. 


II. Passages in which (a.) the spirit or (/3.) the language of 
the Old Testament is exactly retained, or with no greater 
variation of words than may be supposed to arise out of dif 
ference of texts, and no greater diversity of spirit than neces 
sarily arises from the transfer of any passage in the Old 
Testament into another connection in the New. 

III. Allegorical passages. 

I. (1.) An instance in which the meaning of the quotation 
has been altered, and also in which the new meaning given 
to it is derived from another passage, occurs in Rom. ii. 24 : 

TO yap ovofia TOV 6eov di ftXao-fprjueiTai fv rois edvfo-iv where 

the Apostle is speaking of the scandal caused by the violence 
and hypocrisy of the Jews. The words are taken from Isa. 

111. 5 : 81 Vfj-as dicnravTOS TO ovop,d p,ov /3Xuo-<>?7/iemu eV rots eBvfvi 

where, however, they refer, not to the sins of the house of 
Israel, but to their sufferings at the hand of their enemies. 
The turn which the Apostle has given the passage is gathered 
from Ezek. xxxvi. 21 -23 : /cat ^fio-d^v avT&v did TO ovo^d 

fiov TO ayiov 6 e@ej3f)\<t)o-av OIKOS lo-pa^X ev Tols edvecriv ov eio-jjX- 
6oo~av cVet, K. T. X. 

A composition of passages occurs also in Rom. xi. 8, which 
appears to be a union of Isa. vi. 9, 10 and xxix. 10. The 
play upon the word *Qvr\ (nations = Gentiles) is repeated in 
Rom. iv. 17 (Gen. xvii. 5), Gal. iii. 8 (Gen. xii. 3). 

(2.) A similar instance in which the general tone of a 
quotation is taken from one passage, and a few words added 
from another, is to be found in Rom. ix. 33 : I8ov rtf^u eV 

Ziobi/ \idov 7rpoo-KOfj.iJ.aTos Kctl neTpav o~Kav8d\ov KOI 6 Trio-revon eV 

civ ov KaTaio-xwOfjo-eTai. The greater part of this passage 

OCCUrs in Isa. xxviii. 16 : I8oi> e yeb e ju/3aXXo> tig TO. &/zeXia 2t<J>!/ 
\i6ov TroXureXjy, e/cXeKrov, aKpoywviaiov, etrtjuov, ds TO. 6c/j.f\ia avr^y, 
/cat 6 7Tio-Tfv<i)V ov pr) KaTaicrxvvQrj. But the Words \l6ov irpov- 

Kop.[jLaTos are introduced from Isa. viii. 14. And the remainder 
of the passage (mat .... KaTaio~xwdf]o-(Tai) is really inconsist 
ent with these words, though both parts are harmonized in 
Him who is in one sense a stumbling-stone and rock of of 
fence ; in another, a foundation-stone and chief corner-stone. 


(3.) A slighter example of alteration occurs in 1 Cor. iii. 
19, where the Apostle quotes from Ps. xciv. 11 : *vpios yiva>- 
o-<m TOVS dia\oyio~p.ovg ratv o~6<pa)v on flo~\ paTaioi. Here the 
words T&V cro </>a>i> are substituted for ra>v av6na>ira>v in the 
LXX., which in this passage agrees with the Hebrew. They 
are required to connect the quotation in the Epistle with the 
previous verses. A similar instance of the introduction of a 
word (nets) on which the point of an argument turns, occurs 
in Rom. X. 11 : \eyei yap f] ypa(pf) iras 6 irtorevav fir avr<p ov 
naTaio~xvvdr}o-(Tai where the addition is the more remarkable, 
as the Apostle had quoted the words without iras a few verses 

(4.) Another instance of addition, rather than alteration, is 
furnished by 1 Cor. xiv. 21 : lv TG> VO/JKO yeypanTai on lv eTfpo- 
y\<ao~o~ois <a\ \v xi\co~iv erepcov XaX^cro) T< Xaa> rovrto, Kai ov8 

OVTWS eicraKovo-oirai /iou, Xeyet Kvpios. This quotation, which is 
said to be " written in the law " (comp. John x. 34, xii. 34, 
xv. 25), is from Isa. xxviii. 11, 12, where the words in the 

LXX. are 5ta ^auXia/iov ^ftXecoi , 8ia yXaxrcnj? frepas, on XaXiy- 

o-ouo-i rw Xaw rovrco, and in the English translation, " with 
stammering lips and another tongue will he speak unto this 
people." But the last words, ouS OVTWS elo-aKovo-ovrat, are 
taken from the following verse, where a clause nearly similar 
occurs in a different connection : \eyovres. avrolr, roCro TO dvd- 
iravpa TW irfivwvn, KOI TOVTO TO o-vvrpip.p.a, xal OVK rjQe^rjo-av aKov- 
tiv, v. 12. The whole is referred by the Apostle to the gift of 
tongues, which he infers from this passage "to be a sign 
to unbelievers." 

(5.) An adaptation, which has led to an alteration oi 
words, occurs in Rom. X. 6 - 9 : 17 fie e< irio-rta>s diKaioo-vvrj 
OVTO) Xe yei * ffir^s fv TTJ Kapo ia <rov TIS dvaftfjo-eTai els TOP 
ovpavov ; TOUT* eort xP l<rTOV KciTayayelv rj TIS KaTafitjo-fTai elf 
TJ)/ aftvo~o-ov ; TOUT eo~Ti xpi&Tov CK vcKpatv avayaytiv, dXXa TI 
\tyet ; cyyvs o~ov TO pr)pd. eVrii/, eV T<J> (TTO/iaTt o~ov <at fv rrj Kap- 
oia (Tov TOVT eo~Ti TO prj^a TTJS TTiVrecof, 6 KT}pvo~o~op.fv on tav 
6p.o\oyr)(TT]s fv ra> o-TOfiaTi o~ov Kvpiov irjo-ovv, Kal mo-Tfvo~T)S fv TJJ 
Kapdia crov OTI 6 fltos CIVTOV rjyeiptv etc v(Kpu>v, o-(i>dr)o~fl. The sub- 


stance of this passage is taken from Deut. xxx. 11 - 14 : STI q 

avTrj r\v e yo) eVreXXo/zat o~oi o~r]p.(pov ov% vnepoyKos eVnv, ov8e 
ano arov eaTtv OVK ev ra> ot>paz><5 aVco ecrrt, Xeycoi/ ris dva~ 
f3r)o~eTai fjpw els TOV ovpavov, KOI Aj^erat r^uv avrrjV) Kal a.Kovo~avTs 
avTrjv TroirjO OfjLfv ; ov8e Trcpav TTJS 6a\d.cro~r]s e crrl, Ae ycov TIS 
odo~ci fjiuv fls TO Trepav rrjs 6a\d<T(rr]s, KOI Xa^ rjp,"iv iroir](Trj avrrjv, Kal 7roir]aop,V ; eyyvs (rov eort TO prjfJia 
, ev TO) o-ro/iari (rov KOI Iv rfj Kapbia o~ov Kal i> rais X f P" l/ 
o-ov, noiflv avro. To these verses the Apostle has added what 
may be termed a running commentary, applying them to 
Christ. To make the words irepav TTJS 6d\d<ro-r]s thus appli 
cable, the Apostle has altered them to d$ rfjv afivao-ov, a 
change which we should hesitate to attribute to him, but for 
the other examples which have been already quoted of similar 
changes. (Compare also Rom. xi. 8 ; xii. 19 ; Eph. v. 14. 
The latter passage, in which the name of Christ is introduced 
as here, being probably an adaptation of Isa. Ix. 1.) Con 
sidering the frequency of such changes, it would be contrary 
to the rules of sound criticism to attribute the introduction of 
the words to a difference of text in the Old Testament. 

(6.) The words of 1 Cor. XV. 45, OVTO>S Kal yeypcnrTai Eye- 
vfTO 6 Trpatros ASa//. els ^v^v a5crai> 6 eo^aros 1 Afia/x fls rrvfv^a 
^cooTroiovz/, afford a remarkable instance of discrepancy, both 
in words and meaning, from Gen. ii. 7 : evftyvo-rjo-fv els TO 
7rp6o~o)7rov O.VTOV jrvorjv ^ooT/f Kal cyevcTO 6 avdpconos fls ^v%r)v 
fao-av to the two clauses of which the Apostle appears to 
have applied a distinction analogous to that which Philo 
draws (De Legum Alleg., I. 12 ; De Great. Mun., 24, 46) 
between the earthly and the heavenly man (Gen. ii. 7 and 
i. 27). 

II. A good example of the second class of quotations is 
the passage from Hab. ii. 4, quoted in Rom. i. 17 : 6 8e 8i<aios 
CK TriVreeoj <^aerai which occurs also in two other places, 
Heb. x. 38, Gal. iii. 11, which the LXX. read, 6 Se SiKaios e< 
TriVi-ews ^iou ^o-frat, and the English version translates from 
the Hebrew, " but the just shall live by his faith." It is 
remarkable, that in Rom. i. 17, Gal. iii. 11, it should be 


quoted in the same manner, and that slightly different either 
from the LXX. or the Hebrew ; in Heb. x. 38 it agrees pre 
cisely with the LXX. Like the other great text of the 
Apostle, " Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him 
for righteousness," it is an instance of the way in which the 
language of the Old Testament was enlarged and univer 
salized in the New ; the particular faith of Abraham or of 
the Israelite becoming the type of faith generally for all 
mankind in all ages. 

Other examples of the second class of quotations are to 
be found in such passages as the following : " Blessed is the 
man whose iniquity is forgiven, and whose sin is pardoned ; 
blessed is the man to whom the Lord doth not impute sin," 
Rom. iv. 7, from Ps. xxxii. 1, 2. "The reproaches of them 
that reproached thee fell on me," Rom. xv. 3, from Ps. Ixix. 
9. " Who hath believed our report ? " Rom. x. 1 6, from 
Isa. liii. 1 ; in which the instinct of the Apostle has caught 
the common spirit of the Old and New Testament, though 
the texts quoted contain no word which is a symbol of his 

Passages which might be placed under either head are 
Rom. x. 13, "Jacob have I loved, and Esau have I hated," 
the words of which exactly agree with the LXX., although 
their original meaning in Mai. i. 2, 3, whence they are taken, 
has to do, not with the individuals Jacob and Esau, but with 
the natives of Edom and Israel : the cento of quotations in 
Rom. iii. descriptive of the wickedness of the Psalmist s 
enemies, or of those who were the subjects of the prophetical 
denunciations, which are transferred by the Apostle to the 
world in general, Rom. xii. 20, " Therefore if thine enemy 
hunger, feed him ; if he thirst, give him drink ; for in so doing 
thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head," the words of which 
are exactly quoted from the LXX. (Prov. xxv. 21, 22), 
though the meaning given to them is ironical ; for which 
reason the succeeding clause, "But the Lord shall reward 
thee," which would have destroyed the irony, is omitted. 

III. Once more. In a few passages only i he Apostle, after 


the manner of his time, has recourse to allegory. These are : 
1. The allegory of the woman who had lost her husband, in 
Rom. vii. ; 2. Of the children of Israel in the wilderness, in 
1 Cor. x. ; 3. Of Hagar and Sarah, in Gal. iii. ; 4. Of the 
veil on the face of Moses, in 2 Cor. iii. ; 5. Abraham himself, 
who is a kind of centre of allegory, the actions of whose life, 
as well as the promises of God to him, are symbols of the 
coming dispensation ; 6. The history of the patriarchs, and 
cutting short of the house of Israel, in Rom. ix., x. Of these 
examples, the first, third, and fourth are what we should term 
illustrations ; while the second, fifth, and sixth have not mere 
ly an analogous or metaphorical meaning, but a real inward 
connection with the life and state of the first believers. 

A few general results of an examination of the quotations 
from the Old Testament in St. Paul s Epistles, may be 
summed as follows : 

1. The whole number of quotations is about eighty-seven, 
of which about fifty-three are found in the Romans, fifteen in 
1 Corinthians, six in 2 Corinthians, ten in Galatians, two in 
the Ephesians, one in 1 Timothy. Of these nearly half show 
a precise verbal agreement with the LXX. ; while, of the 
remaining passages, at least two thirds exhibit a degree of 
verbal similarity which can only be accounted for by an 
acquaintance with the LXX. 

2. None of these passages offer any certain proof that the 
Apostle was acquainted with the Hebrew original. That he 
must have been acquainted with it can hardly be doubted 
yet it seems improbable that he could have familiarly known 
it without straying into parallelisms with the Hebrew text, in 
those passages in which it varies from the LXX. His ac 
quaintance with it was probably of such a kind as we might 
acquire of a version of the Scriptures not in the vernacular. 
No Englishman incidentally quoting the English version from 
memory would adapt it to the Greek, though he might very 
probably adapt the Greek to the English. On the other 
hand, the Apostle must have possessed a minute knowledge 
of the LXX., as is found by the fragmentary character of the 
quotations, no less than their verbal agreement, 


3. Several of these quotations are what may be termed 
latent quotations, as, for example, Rom. iii. 4 ; x. 1 8 ; 1 Cor. 
vi. 2 ; ix. 7 ; xv. 25, 27 ; while a few others, as, for example, 
Rom. xii. 19 ; 1 Cor. xv. 45, are hardly, if at all, discernible 
in the text of the Old Testament. The very familiarity with 
the Old Testament which has led to the first of these two 
phenomena, may be in part also the cause of the second. As 
the words suggest themselves unconsciously, so the spirit 
without the words occasionally comes into the Apostle s mind ; 
or the language and spirit of different passages blend in one. 

4. There is no evidence that the Apostle remembered the 
verbal connection in which any of the passages quoted by him 
originally occurred. He isolates them wholly from their con 
text ; he reasons from them as he might from statements of 
his own, " going off upon a word," as it has been called, in 
one instance almost upon a letter (Gal. iii. 16), drawing in 
ferences which in strict logic can hardly be allowed, extend 
ing the meaning of words beyond their first and natural 
sense. But all this only implies that he uses quotations from 
the Old Testament after the manner of his age ; clinging 
more than his contemporaries to the spirit and less to the 
letter, his very inaccuracy about the letter arising partly 
from his feeling for the spirit. 

5. It seems strange that the Apostle should use the law to 
establish the law, and at the same time condemn the law by 
itself. What made him apply one text to the law, The man 
that doeth these things shall live in them," and another to the 
Gospel, The word is very nigh unto thee, even in thy 
mouth and in thy heart ? " No answer can be given to this 
question. To separate the Old Testament into two parts, to 
throw away one half, and make the other the means of con 
veying the Gospel to the minds of his hearers, to bring forth 
from his treasury things new and old, and to harmonize all in 
one spirit, is a part of his appointed mission. 



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Gal. iv. 13, 14. 

THE narrative of the Gospel gives no full or perfect like 
ness of the character of the Apostles. Human beings do not 
admit of being constructed out of a single feature ; nor is 
imagination able to supply details which are really wanting. 
St. Peter and St. John, the two Apostles whose names are 
most prominent in the Gospels and early portion of the Acts, 
both seem to unite two extremes in the same person ; the 
character of St. John combining gentleness with vehemence, 
almost with fierceness ; while in St. Peter we seem to trace 
rashness and timidity at once, the spirit of freedom at one 
period of his life, and of narrowness and exclusiveness at 
another. He is the first to confess, and the first to deny 
Christ. Himself the captain of the Apostles, and yet want 
ing in the very qualities necessary to constitute a leader. 
Such extremes may easily meet in the same person ; but we 
do not possess sufficient knowledge to say how they wore 
really reconciled. Each of the Apostles grew up to the ful 
ness of the stature of the perfect man. Even those, who to 
us are little more than names, had individual features as 
lively as our own contemporaries. But the mention of their 
sayings or acts on four or five occasions while they followed 
the footsteps of the Lord on earth, and then on two or three 


occasions soon after he was taken from them, then once again 
after an interval of twelve or fourteen years, is not sufficient 
to enable us to judge of their whole character. We may 
distinguish Peter from John, or James from either ; but we 
cannot set them up as a study to be compared with each 

More features appear of the character of St. Paul, yet not 
sufficient to give a perfect picture. We should lose the in 
dividuality which we have, by seeking to idealize and gen 
eralize from some more common type of Christian life. It 
has not been unusual to describe St. Paul as a man of reso 
lute will, of commanding energy, of high-souled eloquence, of 
classic taste. Not of such a one would the Apostle himself 
" have gloried." It was not the wisdom of this world which 
he spoke, but " the hidden wisdom of God in a mystery." 
All his life long he felt himself to be one " whose strength 
was perfected in weakness " ; he was aware of the impression 
of feebleness which his own appearance and discourse made 
upon his converts ; who was sometimes in weakness and fear 
and trembling before them, " having the sentence of death in 
himself," and at other times " in power and the Holy Ghost 
and in much assurance " ; and so far from having one un 
changing purpose or insight, that though determined to know 
one thing only, " Jesus Christ and him crucified," yet in his 
manner of teaching he wavers between opposite views or 
precepts in successive verses. He is ever feeling, if haply 
he may find them, after the hearts of men. He is carried 
away by sympathy, at times even for his opponents. He is 
struggling to express what is in process of revelation to him. 
Such are some of the individual traits which he has left in his 
writings ; they are traits far more interesting and more like 
himself than any general image of heroism or goodness. 
Whatever other impression he might have made upon us, 
could we have seen him face to face, there can be little doubt 
that he would have left the impression of what was remark 
able and uncommon. 

There are questions which it is interesting to suggest, even 


when they can never receive a perfect and satisfactory an 
swer. One of these questions may be asked respecting St. 
Paul : " What was the relation in which his former life stood 
to the great fact of his conversion ? " He himself, in looking 
back upon the times in which he persecuted the Church of 
God, thought of them chiefly as an increasing evidence of the 
mercy of God, which was afterwards extended to him. It 
seemed so strange to have been what he had been, and to be 
what he was. Nor does our own conception of him, in rela 
tion to his former self, commonly reach beyond this contrast 
of the old and new man; the persecutor and the preacher 
of the Gospel ; the young man at whose feet the witnesses 
against Stephen laid down their clothes, and the same Paul 
disputing against the Grecians, full of visions and revelations 
of the Lord, on whom in later life came daily the care of all 
the churches. 

Yet we cannot but admit also the possibility, or rather the 
probable truth, of another point of view. If there were any 
among the contemporaries of St. Paul who had known him 
in youth and in age, they would have seen similarities such as 
escape us in the character of the Apostle at different periods 
of his life. The zealot against the Gospel might have seemed 
to them transfigured into the opponent of the law ; they 
would have found something in common in the Pharisee of 
the Pharisees, brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, and the 
man who had a vow on his last journey to Jerusalem. And 
when they heard the narrative of his conversion from his 
own lips, they might have remarked that to one of his tem 
perament only could such an event have happened, and would 
have noted many superficial resemblances which showed him 
to be the same man, while the great inward change which 
had overflowed upon the world was hid from their eyes. 

The gifts of God to man have ever some reference to 
natural disposition. He who becomes the servant of God 
does not thereby cease to be himself. Often the transition is 
greater in appearance than in reality, from its very sudden 
ness. There is a kind of rebellion against self and nature 


and God, which, through the mercy of God to the soul, seems 
almost necessarily to lead to reaction. Persons have been 
worse than their fellow-men in outward appearance, and yet 
there was within them the spirit of a child waiting to return 
home to their father s house. A change passes upon them 
which we may figure to ourselves, not only as the new man 
taking the place of the old, but as the inner man taking the 
place of the outer. So fearfully and wonderfully are we 
made, that the very contrast to what we are has often an 
inexpressible power over us. It seems sometimes as if the 
same religious education had tended to contrary results ; in 
one case to a devout life, in another to a reaction against it ; 
sometimes to one form of faith, at other times to another. 
Many parents have wept to see the early religious training of 
their children draw them, by a kind of repulsion, to a com 
munion which is the extreme opposite of that in which they 
have been brought up. Such facts as these have but a 
remote bearing on the character of St. Paul ; but they serve 
to make us think, that all spiritual influences, however an 
tagonistic they may appear, have more in common with each 
other than they have with the temper of the world ; and that 
it is easier to pass from one form of faith to another, than 
from leading the life of all men to either. There is more in 
common between those who anathematize each other, than 
between either and the spirit of toleration which characterizes 
the ordinary dealings of man and man, or much more the 
Spirit of Christ, for whom they are alike contending. 

Perhaps we shall not be far wrong in concluding, that 
those who have undergone great religious changes, have been 
of a fervid, imaginative cast of mind ; looking for more in 
this world than it was capable of yielding ; easily touched by 
the remembrance of the past, or inspired by some ideal of the 
future. When with this has been combined a zeal for the 
good of their fellow-men, they have become the heralds and 
champions of the religious movements of the world. The 
change has begun within, but has overflowed without them. 
" When thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren," is the 


order of nature and of grace. In secret they brood over 
their own state ; weary and profitless their soul fainteth with 
in them. The religion they profess is a religion not of life to 
them, but of death ; they lose their interest in the world, and 
are cut off from the communion of their fellow-men. While 
they are musing, the fire kindles, and at the last " they speak 
with their tongue." Then pours forth irrepressibly the pent- 
up stream "unto all and upon all" their fellow-men; the 
intense flame of inward enthusiasm warms and lights up the 
world. First, they are the evidence to others ; then, again, 
others are the evidence to them. All religious leaders cannot 
be reduced to a single type of character ; yet in all, perhaps, 
two characteristics may be observed ; the first, great self- 
reflection ; the second, intense sympathy with other men. 
They are not the creatures of habit or of circumstance, lead 
ing a blind life, unconscious of what they are ; their whole 
effort is to realize their inward nature, and to make it palpa 
ble and visible to their fellows. Unlike other men who are 
confined to the circle of themselves or of their family, their 
affections are never straitened ; they embrace with their love 
all men who are like-minded with them ; almost all men too, 
who are unlike them, in the hope that they may become 

Such men have generally appeared at favorable conjunc 
tures of circumstances, when the old was about to vanish 
away, and the new to appear. The world has yearned 
towards them, and they towards the world. They have 
uttered what all men were feeling ; they have interpreted the 
age to itself. But for the concurrence of circumstances, they 
might have been stranded on the solitary shore, they might 
have died without a follower or convert. But when the 
world has needed them and God has intended them for the 
world, they are endued with power from on high ; they use 
all other men as their instruments, uniting them to them 

Often such men have been brought up in the faith which 
they afterwards oppose, and a part of their power has con- 


sisted in their acquaintance with the enemy. They see other 
men, like themselves formerly, wandering out of the way in 
the idol s temple, amid a burdensome ceremonial, with prayers 
and sacrifices unable to free the soul. They lead them by 
the way themselves came to the home of Christ. Sometimes 
they represent the new as the truth of the old ; at other times 
as contrasted with it, as life and death, as good and evil, as 
Christ and anti-Christ. They relax the force of habit, they 
melt the pride and fanaticism of the soul. They suggest to 
others their own doubts, they inspire them with their own 
hopes, they supply their own motives, they draw men to them 
with cords of sympathy and bonds of love ; they themselves 
seem a sufficient stay to support the world. Such was Lu 
ther at the Reformation ; such, in a far higher sense, was the 
Apostle St. Paul. 

There have been heroes in the world, and there have been 
prophets in the world. The first may be divided into two 
classes ; either they have been men of strong will and character, 
or of great power and range of intellect ; in a few instances, 
combining both. They have been the natural leaders of man 
kind, compelling others by their acknowledged superiority as 
rulers and generals ; or in the paths of science and philoso 
phy, drawing the world after them by a yet more inevitable 
necessity. The prophet belongs to another order of beings : 
he does not master his thoughts ; they carry him away. He 
does not see clearly into the laws of this world or the affairs 
of this world, but has a light beyond, which reveals them 
partially in their relation to another. Often he seems to be 
at once both the weakest and the strongest of men ; the first 
to yield to his own impulses, the mightiest to arouse them in 
others. Calmness, or reason, or philosophy are not the words 
which describe the appeals which he makes to the hearts of 
men. He sways them to and fro rather than governs or con 
trols them. He is a poet, and more than a poet, the inspired 
teacher of mankind ; but the intellectual gifts which he pos 
sesses are independent of knowledge, or learning, or capacity ; 
wrhat they are much more akin to is the fire and subtlety of 


genius. He too, for a time, has ruled kingdoms and even led 
armies ; " an Apostle, not of man, nor by men " ; acting, not 
by authority or commission of any prince, but by an imme 
diate inspiration from on high communicating itself to the 
hearts of men. 

Saul of Tarsus is called an Apostle rather than a prophet, 
because Hebrew prophecy belongs to an age of the world 
before Christianity. Now that in the Gospel that which is 
perfect is come, that which is in part is done away. Yet, in 
a secondary sense, the Apostle St. Paul is also " among the 
prophets." He, too, has "visions and revelations of the 
Lord," though he has not written them down " for our in 
struction," in which he would fain glory because they are not 
his own. Even to the outward eye he has the signs of a 
prophet. There is in him the same emotion, the same sym 
pathy, the same "strength made perfect in weakness," the 
same absence of human knowledge, the same subtilty in the 
use of language, the same singleness in the delivery of his 
message. He speaks more as a man, and less immediately 
under the impulse of the Spirit of God ; more to individuals, 
and less to the nation at large ; he is less of a poet, and more 
of a teacher or preacher. But these differences do not inter 
fere with the general resemblance. Like Isaiah, he bids us 
look to " the man of sorrows " ; like Ezekiel, he arouses men 
to a truer sense of thf ways of God in his dealings with them ; 
like Jeremiah, he mourns over his countrymen ; like all the 
prophets who have ever been, he is lifted above this world, 
and is " in the Spirit at the day cf the Lord." (Rev. i. 10.) 

Reflections of this kind are suggested by the absence of 
materials such as throw any light on the early life of St. 
Paul. All that we know of him before his conversion is 
summed up in two facts, " that the witnesses laid down their 
clothes with a young man whose name was Saul," and that he 
was brought up at the feet of Gamaliel, one of the few Rab 
binical teachers of Greek learning in the city of Jerusalem. 
We cannot venture to assign him either to the " choleric " or 
the " melancholic " temperament. [Tholuck.] We are un- 


able to determine what were his natural gifts or capacities ; or 
how far, as we often observe to be the case, the gifts which he 
had were called out by the mission on which he was sent, or 
the theatre on which he felt himself placed " a spectacle to 
the world, to angels, and to men." Far more interesting is it 
to trace the simple feelings with which he himself regarded 
his former life. " Last of all he was seen of me also, who 
am the least of the Apostles, that am not worthy to be called 
an Apostle, because I persecuted the Church of God." Yet 
there was a sense also that he was excusable, and that this 
was the reason why the mercy of God extended itself to him. 
" Yet I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbe 
lief." And in one passage he dwells on the fact, not only 
that he had been an Israelite, but more, that after the strictest 
sect of the Jews religion he lived a Pharisee, as though that 
were an evidence to himself, and should be so to others, that 
no human power could have changed him ; that he was no 
half Jew, who had never properly known what the law was, 
but one who had both known and strictly practised it. 

We are apt to judge extraordinary men by our own stand 
ard ; that is to say, we often suppose them to possess, in an 
extraordinary degree, those qualities which we are conscious 
of in ourselves or others. This is the easiest way of con 
ceiving their characters, but not the truest. They differ in 
kind rather than in degree. Even to understand them truly 
seems to require a power analogous to their own. Their 
natures are more subtile, and yet more simple, than we readily 
imagine. No one can read the ninth chapter of the First, or 
the eleventh and twelfth chapters of the Second Epistle to 
the Corinthians, without feeling how different the Apostle St. 
Paul must have been from good men amcng ourselves. We 
marvel how such various traits of character come together 
in the same individual. He who was " full of visions and 
revelations of the Lord," who spake with tongues more than 
they all, was not mad, but uttered the words of truth and 
soberness." He who was the most enthusiastic of all men, 
was also the most prudent ; the Apostle of freedom, an4 yet 


the most moderate. He who was the strongest and most 
enlightened of all men, was also (would he have himself re 
frained from saying ?) at times the weakest ; on whom there 
came the care of all the churches, yet seeming also to lose 
the power of acting in the absence of human sympathy. 

Qualities so like and unlike are hard to reconcile ; perhaps 
they have never been united in the same degree in any other 
human being. The contradiction in part arises, not only from 
the Apostle being an extraordinary man, but from his being a 
man like ourselves in an extraordinary state. Creation was 
not to him that fixed order of things which it is to us ; rather 
it was an atmosphere of evil just broken by the light beyond. 
To us the repose of the scene around contrasts with the tur 
moil of man s own spirit ; to the Apostle peace was to be 
sought only from within, half hidden even from the inner man. 
There was a veil upon the heart itself which had to be re 
moved. He himself seemed to fall asunder at times into two 
parts, the flesh and the spirit ; and the world to be divided 
into two hemispheres, the one of the rulers of darkness, the 
other bright with that inward presenee which should one day 
be revealed. In this twilight he lived. What to us is far off 
both in time and place, if such an expression may be allowed, 
to him was near and present, separated by a thin film from 
the world we see, ever ready to break forth and gather into 
itself the frame of nature. That sense of the invisible which 
to most men it is so difficult to impart, was like a second na 
ture to St. Paul. He walked by faith, and not by sight ; 
what was strange to him was the life he now led ; which in 
his own often repeated language was death rather than life, 
the place of shadows, and not of realities. The Greek philos 
ophers spoke of a world of phenomena, of true being, of 
knowledge, and opinion ; and we know that what they meant 
by these distinctions is something different from the tenets of 
any philosophical school of the present day. But not less 
different is what St. Paul meant by the life hidden with Christ 
in God, the communion of the spirit, the possession of the 
mind of Christ ; only that this was not a mere difference ot 


speculation, but of practice also. Could any one say now, 
" the life," not that I live, but that " Christ liveth in me " ? 
Such language with St. Paul is no mere phraseology, such as 
is repeated from habit in prayers, but the original conscious 
ness of the Apostle respecting his own state. Self is banished 
from him, and has no more place in him, as he goes on hb 
way to fulfil the work of Christ. No figure is too strong to 
express his humiliation in himself, or his exaltation in Christ. 

Could we expect this to be otherwise when we look back at 
the manner of his conversion ? Could he have looked upon 
the world with the same eyes that we do, or heard its many 
voices with the same ears, who had been caught up into the 
seventh heaven, whether in the body, or out of the body, he 
could not tell ? Must not his whole life have seemed to him 
like a gradual revelation, an inspiration, an ecstasy ? Once 
he had looked upon the face of Christ, and heard Him speak 
from heaven. All that followed in the Apostle s history was 
continuous with that event, a stream of light flowing from it, 
" planting eyes " in his soul, transfiguring him " from glory to 
glory," clothing him with the elect " in the exceeding glory." 

Yet this glory was not that of the princes of this world, 
" who come to naught " : it is another image which he gives 
us of himself; not the figure on Mars hill, in the cartoons 
of Raphael, nor the orator with noble mien and eloquent ges 
ture before Festus and Agrippa ; but the image of one lowly 
and cast down, whose bodily presence was weak, and speech 
contemptible ; of one who must have appeared to the rest of 
mankind like a visionary, pierced by the thorn in the flesh, 
waiting for the redemption of the body. The saints of the 
Middle Ages are in many respects unlike St. Paul, and yet 
many of them bear a far closer resemblance to him than is to 
be found in Luther and the Reformers. The points of resem 
blance which we seem to see in them are the same withdrawal 
from the things of earth, the same ecstasy, the same conscious 
ness of the person of Christ. Who would describe Luther by 
the words " crucified with Christ " ? It is in another manner 
that the Reformer was called upon to war, with weapons 


earthly as well as spiritual, with a strong rigl t hand and a 
mighty arm. 

There have been those who, although deformed by nature, 
have worn the expression of a calm and heavenly beauty ; in 
whom the flashing eye has attested the presence of thought in 
the poor, withered, and palsied frame. There have been 
others again, who have passed the greater part of their lives 
in intense bodily suffering, who have, nevertheless, directed 
states or led armies, the keenness of whose intellect has not 
been dulled, nor their natural force of mind abated. There 
have been those also, on whose faces men have gazed " as 
upon the face of an angel," while they pierced or stoned them. 
Of such an one, perhaps, the Apostle himself might have glo 
ried ; not of those whom men term great or noble. He who 
felt the whole creation groaning and travailing together until 
now, was not like the Greek drinking in the life of nature at 
every pore. He who through Christ was crucified to the 
world, and the world to him, was not in harmony with nature, 
nor nature with him. The manly form, the erect step, the 
fulness of life and beauty, could not have gone along with 
such a consciousness as this ; any more than the taste for lit 
erature and art could have consisted with the thought, " not 
many wise, not many learned, not many mighty." Instead of 
these, we have the visage marred more than the sons of men, 
the cross of Christ to the Greeks foolishness, the thorn in the 
flesh, the marks in his body of the Lord Jesus. 

Often the Apostle St. Paul has been described as a person 
the furthest removed from enthusiasm ; incapable of spiritual 
illusion ; by his natural temperament averse to credulity or 
superstition. By such considerations as these a celebrated 
author confesses himself to have been converted to the belief 
in Christianity. And yet, if it is intended to reduce St. Paul 
to the type of what is termed " good sense " in the present 
day, it must be admitted that the view which thus describes 
him is but partially true. Far nearer the truth is that other 
quaint notion of a modern writer, " that St. Paul was the 
finest gentleman that ever lived " ; for no man had nobler 


forms of courtesy, or a deeper regard for the feelings of others. 
But " good sense " is a term not well adapted to express 
either the individual, or the age and country in which he 
lived. He who wrought miracles, who had handkerchiefs 
carried to him from the sick, who spake with tongues more 
than they all, who lived amid visions and revelations of the 
Lord, who did not appeal to the Gospel as a thing long set 
tled, but, himself, saw the process of revelation actually going 
on before his eyes, and communicated it to his fellow-men, 
could never have been such an one as ourselves. Nor can 
we pretend to estimate whether, in the modern sense of the 
term, he was capable of weighing evidence ; or how far he 
would have attempted to sever between the workings of hi* 
own mind and the Spirit which was imparted to him. 

What has given rise to this conception of the Apostle s 
character has been the circumstance, that with what the world 
terms mysticism and enthusiasm are united a singular pru 
dence and moderation, and a perfect humanity, searching the 
feelings and knowing the hearts of all men. " I became all 
things to all men, that I might win some " ; not only, we may 
believe, as a sort of accommodation, but as the expression 
of the natural compassion and love which he felt for them. 
There is no reason to suppose that the Apostle took any in 
terest in the daily life of men, in the great events which were 
befalling the Roman Empire, or in the temporal fortunes of 
the Jewish people. But when they came before him as sin 
ners, lying in darkness and the shadow of God s wrath, igno- 
ranfof the mystery that was being revealed before their eyes, 
then his love was quickened for them, then they seemed to 
him as his kindred and brethren ; there was no sacrifice too 
great for him to make ; he was willing to die with Christ, 
yea, even to be accursed from Him, that he might " save some 
of them." 

Mysticism, or enthusiasm, or intense benevolence and phi- 
lanthropy, seem to us, as they commonly are, at variance with 
worldly prudence and moderation. But in the Apostle these 
different and contrasted qualities are mingled and harmonize^, 


The mother patching over the life of her child has all her 
faculties aroused and stimulated ; she knows almost by in 
stinct how to say or do the right thing at the right time ; she 
regards his faults with mingled love and sorrow. So, in the 
Apostle, we seem to trace a sort of refinement or nicety of 
feeling, when he is dealing with the souls of men. All his 
knowledge of mankind shows itself for their sakes ; and yet 
not that knowledge of mankind which comes from without, re 
vealing itself by experience of men and manners, by taking a 
part in events, by the insensible course of years making us 
learn from what we have seen and suffered. There is another 
experience that comes from within, which begins with the 
knowledge of self, with the consciousness of our own weak 
ness and infirmities ; which is continued in love to others, and 
in works of good to them ; which grows by singleness and 
simplicity of heart. Love becomes the interpreter of how 
men think, and feel, and act, and supplies the place of, or 
passes into, a worldly prudence wiser than the prudence of this 
world. Such is the worldly prudence of St. Paul. 

Once more : there is in the Apostle, not only prudence and 
knowledge of the world, but a kind of subtilty of moderation, 
which considers every conceivable case, and balances one 
with another ; in the last resort giving no rule, but allowing 
all to be superseded by a more general principle. An in 
stance of this subtile moderation is his determination, or rather 
omission, to determine the question of meats and drinks, which 
he first regards as indifferent, secondly, as depending on men s 
own conscience, and this again as limited by the consciences 
of others, and lastly resolves all these finer precepts into the 
general principle, " Whatever ye do, do all to the glory of 
God." The same qualification of one principle by another 
recurs again in his rules respecting marriage. First, " do not 
marry unbelievers," and "let not the wife depart from hei 
husband." But if you are married, and the unbeliever is wil 
ling to remain, then the spirit of the second precept must 
prevail over the first. Only in an extreme case, where both 
parties are willing to dissolve the tie, the first principle in turn 
30 * 


may again supersede the second. It may be said in the one 
case, " Your children are holy " ; in the other, " What knowest 
thou, wife, if thou shalt save thy husband ? " In a similar 
spirit he withdraws his censure on the incestuous person, lesi 
such an one, criminal as he was, should be swallowed up with 
overmuch sorrow. There is a religious aspect of either course 
of conduct, and either may be right under given circum 
stances. So the kingdoms of this world admit of being re 
garded almost as the kingdom of God, in reference to our 
duties towards their rulers ; and yet touching the going to law 
before unbelievers, we are to think rather of that other king 
dom in which we shall judge angels. 

The Gospel, it has been often remarked, lays down princi 
ples rather than rules. The passages in the Epistles of St. 
Paul which seem to be exceptions to this statement, are ex 
ceptions in appearance rather than reality. They are relative 
to the circumstances of those whom he is addressing. He 
who became " all things to all men," would have been the last 
to insist on temporary regulations for his converts being made 
the rule of Christian life in all ages. His manner of church 
government was the very reverse of an immutable and un 
bending law. In all his instructions to the churches, the 
Apostle is ever with them, and seems to follow in his mind s 
eye their working and effect ; whither his Epistles go, he 
goes in thought ; absent, in his own language, in the body, 
but present in spirit. What he says to the churches, he 
seems to make them say ; what he directs them to do, they 
are to do in that common spirit in which they are united with 
him ; if they live, he lives ; time and distance never snap 
the cord of sympathy. His government of them is a sort of 
communion with them ; a receiving of their feelings and a 
pouring forth of his own, hardly ever bare command ; a spirit 
which he seeks to infuse into them, not a law by which he 
rules them. 

Great men are sometimes said to possess the power of com 
mand, but not the power of entering into the feelings of others. 
They have no fear of their fellows, but neither are they a]- 


ways capable of immediately impressing them, or of perceiv 
ing the impression which their words or actions make upon 
them. Often they live in a kind of solitude, on which other 
men do not venture to intrude ; putting forth their strength on 
particular occasions, careless or abstracted about the daily 
concerns of life. Such was not the greatness of the Apostle 
St. Paul ; not only in the sense in which he says that " he 
could do all things through Christ," but in a more earthly and 
human one, was it true that his strength was his weakness, and 
his weakness his strength. His dependence on others was in 
part also the source of his influence over them. His natural 
character was the type of that communion of the Spirit which 
he preached ; the meanness of appearance which he attributes 
to himself, the image of that contrast which the Gospel pre 
sents to human greatness. Glorying and humiliation, life and 
death, a vision of angels strengthening him, the " thorn in the 
flesh " rebuking him, the greatest tenderness not without stern 
ness, sorrows above measure, consolations above measure, are 
some of the contradictions which were reconciled in the same 
man. The centre in which things so strange met and moved 
was the cross of Christ, " whose marks in his body he bore " ; 
what was " behind of whose afflictions " he rejoiced to fill up. 
Let us look once more, a little closer, at that " visage marred " 
in his Master s service. A poor decrepit being, afflicted per 
haps with palsy, certainly with some bodily defect, led out 
of prison between Roman soldiers, probably at times faltering 
in his speech, the creature, as he seemed to spectators, of ner 
vous sensibility, yearning, almost with a sort of fondness, to 
save the souls of those whom he saw around him, spoke a 
few eloquent words in the cause of Christian truth, at which 
kings were awed, telling the tale of his own conversion with 
such simple pathos, that after ages have hardly heard the 

Such is the image, not which Christian art hao delighted to 
consecrate, but which the Apostle has left in his own writings, 
of himself; an image of true wisdom, and nobleness, and af 
fection, but of a wisdom unlike the wisdom of this world ; o! 


a nobleness which must not be transformed into that of the 
heroes of the world; an affection which see.ueJ to be as 
strong and as individual towards all mankind *, other men 
are capable of feeling towards a single person. 



THE narrative of the second chapter of the Epistle to the 
Galatians suggests an inquiry, which lies at the foundation of 
all inquiries into the history of the early Church : " In what 
relation did St. Paul stand to the Apostles at Jerusalem?" 
To which inquiry three answers may be given: (1.) the 
answer which identifies the preaching of St. Paul and the 
Twelve ; or, (2.) which opposes them ; or, (3.) which, without 
absolutely either identifying or opposing them, allows for im 
portant differences arising from variety of external circum 
stances and of individual character. The first answer is that 
which would be gathered from the Acts of the Apostles, 
which presents only the picture of an unbroken unity ; a 
view to which the Church in after ages naturally inclined, 
and which may be said to be caricatured in the explanation 
of Chrysostom and Jerome, that the dispute between the 
Apostles at Antioch was only a concerted fiction. Secondly, 
the answer which would be supplied by the Clementine homi-. 
lies, in which St. Paul sustains the character of Simon Magus, 
and St. Peter is the Apostle of the Gentiles ; such an answer 
as would probably have been given also in the writings (had 
they been preserved to us) of Marcion, by whom St. Paul in 
turn was magnified to the exclusion of the Twelve. The 
third answer is that which we believe would be drawn from 
a careful examination of the Epistles of St. Paul himself, the 


only contemporary documents : " Separation not opposition, 
antagonism of the followers rather than of the leaders, per 
sonal antipathy of the Judaizers to St. Paul rather than of 
St. Paul to the Twelve." 

The inquiry to which these three answers have been given, 
unavoidably runs up into the more general question of the 
relation of the Gospel of the circumcision and the uncircum 
cision, and of the Jew to the Gentile. If in the second 
century these distinctions -yet survived, if animosities against 
St. Paul were burning still, if a party without the Church 
ranged itself under his name, if later controversies have any 
thing in common with that first difference of circumcision and 
uncircumcision, if in the earliest ecclesiastical history we find 
a silence respecting the person and an absence of the spirit 
of St. Paul, it is impossible to separate these facts from the 
record of the Apostle himself, that on a great occasion the 
other Apostles " added nothing to him " ; and that at Antioch, 
which was more peculiarly his own sphere, he withstood Peter 
to the face. We recognize in the personal narrative of the 
Epistle to the Galatians, the germ of what reappears after 
wards as the history of the Church. And had no record of 
either kind survived, had there been no hint anywhere 
dropped of divisions between St. Paul and the Twelve, no 
memorial extant of Judaizing heresies, we should feel that 
some account was still needed of the manner in which circum 
cision became uncircumcision, and the Jew was lost in the 
Gentile. Probably we might conjecture not in all places with 
equal readiness, nor equally after and before the destruction 
of Jerusalem or the revolt under Adrian, nor without impart 
ing many elements of the Law to the Gospel, nor, in accord 
ance with the general laws of human nature, without some 
violence of party and opinion. 

Events of the greatest importance in the history of man 
kind are not always seen to be important, until the time for 
preserving them is past. They have vanished into outline, 
and the details are filled up by the imagination or by the 
feelings of a later generation. This is especially the case 


with such events as stand in no relation to the public life of 
the time. Events of this kind, the most fruitful in results, 
may disappear themselves as though they had never been ; 
they may also be magnified by present interests into false and 
exaggerated proportions. Who can tell what went on in a 
" large upper room " about the year 40 ? which may, never 
theless, have had vital consequences for the history of the 
world and the Church. Allusions in contemporary writings 
will be often insufficient to retain the true meaning of institu 
tions or events, or to dispel the errors that may distort or 
cover them. And the events which of all others are least 
likely to preserve their real aspect, most subject to be for 
gotten on the one hand, or to be exaggerated on the other, 
the most liable to be perverted, the least possible to read 
aright even in contemporary writings, are the differences of 
the first teachers of a religion, when they leave no permanent 
impress on its after history. 

These are the reasons why, on such a subject as the one 
we are considering, so much is left for speculation and for 
conjecture ; why the result of so many books is so small ; 
why there is so much criticism, and so little history. Not 
only are the materials slender, but the light by which they 
are seen is feeble ; and hence the new combinations and con 
structions of them are necessarily uncertain. They cannot 
be left to lie flat upon the page of Scripture ; least of all can 
they be put together on the pattern of ecclesiastical tradition. 
Church history, like other history, may be made by the work 
ings of the human mind to acquire a deceitful unity ; it may 
gather to itself form and feature ; it may convey a harmo 
nious impression, which, from its mere internal consistency, it 
is difficult to resist. The philosophy of history readily weaves 
the tangle, developing the growth of ideas and connecting 
together causes and effects ; but the unity which it creates is 
only artificial. Some other combination may be equally 
possible. Tradition, on the other hand, has a natural unity ; 
but it is the unity of idea, which a later age gives to the past. 
It tells not what a former generation was, but what an after 


one thought it should have been. Many things came to light 
in the second century, which were unknown in the first. Still 
more in the third, that were unknown in the second. We 
turn from " this idol of the temple " to our earliest materials, 
the least hint in which, slender as they are, will be often of 
more value than all later traditions put together. 

Many causes combine to produce a singular illusion in 
reference to the Church of the Apostolic age. There is the 
universal temptation to look back to a time when human 
nature was better than it is, when virtue and brotherly love 
were not an ideal only, but had an actual habitation on the 
earth among men. The times of the Apostles are the golden 
age of the Church, in which, without spot, or wrinkle, or any 
such thing, it seems to come from the hands of its Divine 
Author, the New Jerusalem descending from heaven, ar 
rayed in a portion of that glory with which the faith of the 
Apostles clothed it. Such is the idea which we instinctively 
form of the primitive Church, prior to any examination of 
the New Testament ; an idea which is with difficulty laid 
aside in the face of the plainest facts. The misconception is 
further increased by the circumstance, that in modern times 
even more than in ancient, we have made the first century 
the battle-field of our controversies ; instead of asking what 
was right, or true, or probable, what was the spirit or mind of 
Christ, we have constantly repeated the question, " What was 
the belief, constitution, practice, of the primitive Church ? " 
a question which we had, in reality, the smallest materials for 
answering, and which we had, therefore, the greatest tempta 
tion to answer according to our previous conception. The 
vacant space was in some way to be filled up. Could any 
thing be more natural than that it should be filled up with the 
features of the third century ? If we analyze closely what 
is the origin of many familiar conceptions respecting the 
Apostolic Church, we shall find that they -consist of a sort of 
ideal, clothed in some of the externals of Tertullian or of 
Augustine, and conforming, as far as possible, to the use 
and practice of our own time. 


.The slightest knowledge of human nature is sufficient to 
assure us, that in the primitive Church there must have 
existed all the varieties of practice, belief, speculation, doc 
trine, which the different circumstances of the converts, and 
the different natures of men acting on those circumstances, 
would be likely to produce. The least examination of the. 
Epistles is sufficient to show, not only what must have been, 
but what was. Even the Apostles and their immediate fol 
lowers did not work together in the spirit of an order ; but 
like men of strongly marked individual character, going by 
different roads to what did not always prove to be a common 
end. Not to anticipate the great division of which we are 
about to speak, Paul, and Barnabas, and Apollos, and even 
Priscilla and Aquila, seem to have their separate spheres of 
labor and ways of acting ; and a similar difference, though 
slightly marked, is observable in the relation of St. Peter to 
St. James. When the Apostles were withdrawn, the differ 
ences which had commenced during their lifetime were not 
likely to disappear ; in all that conflict of opinions, philoso 
phies, religions, races, they must, for a time at least, have 
found food, and gathered strength. 

Leaving such general speculations, we will now go back 
to the subject out of which they arose, the difference of St. 
Paul and the Twelve, " the little cloud no bigger than a 
man s hand," the sign of that greater difference which spread 
itself over the face of the Church and the world. 

The narrative of this difference is contained in the second 
chapter of the Epistle to the Galatians. The Apostle begins 
by asserting his Divine commission and independence of 
human authority, with an emphasis which implies that this 
could not have been acknowledged by the Judaizing Chris 
tians. After a few sharp words of remonstrance, he touches 
on such points in his personal history as tended to show that 
he had no connection with the Twelve. It was not by their 
ministry that he was converted ; and after his conversion, he 
had seen them only twice ; once for so short a time that he 
was unknown by face to the churches of Judasa ; on the latter 


of the two occasions, they had " added nothing to him " hi a 
conference about circumcision. Afterwards, at Antioch, when 
Peter showed a disposition partially to retrace his steps, at 
the instigation of certain who came from James, he withstood 
him to the face, and rebuked his inconsistency, even though 
his helper, Barnabas, and all the other Jews, were against 
him. The reason for narrating all this is to show, not how 
nearly the Apostle agreed with the Twelve, but how entirely 
he maintained his ground, meeting them on terms of free 
dom and equality. 

There are features in this narrative which indicate a hostile, 
as there are other features which also indicate a friendly, 
bearing in the two parties who are here spoken of. Among 
the first may be classed the mention of false brethren, " v r ho 
came in to spy out our liberty in Christ Jesus." Were they 
Jews or Christians ? and how came they to be present if the 
Apostles at Jerusalem could have prevented them ? The 
number of them seems to indicate that there was no strong 
line of demarcation between the Jews and Christians at Jeru 
salem ; and from the tone of the narrative we can hardly 
avoid drawing the conclusion, that the other Apostles scarcely 
resisted them, but left the battle to be fought by St. Paul. 
The second point which leads to the unfavorable inference is 
the manner in which the Apostles of Jerusalem are spoken 
of, " those who seemed to be somewhat, whatsoever they 
were, it maketh no matter to me " ; of SoKovi/res tlvai , v. 6, 
who are shown by the form of the sentence to be the same as 
of SoKovvTfs oruXoi eii/cu, in v. 9. Thirdly, the distinction of 
the Gospels of the circumcision and uncircumcision; which 
was not merely one of places, but in some degree of doctrine 
also. Fourthly, the use of the words (vnoKpi<ris) " hypocrisy," 
and (KaTcyvoHTpevos) " condemned," in reference to Peter s 
conduct; and, lastly, in v. 12, the mention of certain who 
came from James, under whose influence the Apostle sup 
posed Peter to have acted ; which raises the suspicion of a 
regular opposition to St. Paul, acting in concert with the 
heads of the Church at Jerusalem. In the end, the other 


Apostles were determined by the fact, that a Church had 
grown up external to them, which was its own witness. 

Yet in this very passage there are also kindlier features, 
which restore us more nearly to our previous conception of 
the Apostolic Church. In the first place, there is no indica 
tion here, any more than elsewhere in the Epistles, of an 
open schism between St. Paul and the Twelve, which, had it 
existed, could not have failed to appear. Secondly, the 
differences are not of such a nature as to preclude the Church 
of Jerusalem from receiving, or the Apostle from giving, the 
alms of the Gentiles. Lastly, the expression, ol SoKoCi/rer 
ttvai rt, " who seemed to be somewhat," although ironical, is 
softened by what follows, of Sonovvrfs fivai <m5Aot, " who 
seemed to be pillars," in which the Apostle expresses the real 
greatness and high authority of the Twelve in their separate 
field of labor. Singular as the juxtaposition is of the false 
brethren, the Apostles " who added nothing to him," " the 
persons who came from James," the tone of the passage, as 
well as of every passage in which they are named, shows 
that on St. Paul s part there could have been no personal 
antagonism to the Twelve. 

But not to anticipate the conclusion, we must here enter on 
a further stage of the same inquiry, the evidence supplied by 
the Epistles of St. Paul, and other portions of the New Tes 
tament, on the subject which we are considering. Is it a 
mere passing incidental circumstance, happening for once in 
their lives, that the Apostles of Jerusalem and St. Paul met 
and had a partial difference ? or is the difference alluded to, 
in a manner so unlike the violence of later controversy, 
merely an indication of a greater and more radical difference 
in the Church itself, faintly discernible in the persons of its 
leaders ? We might be disposed to answer " yes " to the first 
alternative, were the first two chapters of the Galatians all 
that remained to us ; we are compelled to say " yes " to the 
second, when we extend our view to other parts of Scrip 

Everywhere in the Epistles of St. Paul and in the Acts of 


the Apostles, we find traces of an opposition between the 
Jew and Gentile, the circumcision and the uncircumcision. 
It is found, not only in the Epistle to the Galatians, but in a 
scarcely less aggravated form hi the two Epistles to the 
Corinthians, softened, indeed, in the Epistle to the Romans, 
and yet distinctly traceable in the Epistle to the Philippians ; 
the party of the circumcision appearing to triumph in Aeia, 
at the very close of the Apostle s life, in the second Epistle 
to Timothy. In all these Epistles we have proofs of a reac 
tion to Judaism, but, though they are addressed to churches 
chiefly of Gentile origin, never of a reaction to heathenism. 
Could this have been the case, unless within the Church itself 
there had been a Jewish party urging upon the members of 
the Church the performance of a rite repulsive in itself, if 
not as necessary to salvation, at any rate as a counsel of per 
fection, seeking to make them, in Jewish language, not merely 
proselytes of the gate, but proselytes of righteousness ? What, 
if not this, is the reverse side of the Epistles of St. Paul ? 
that is to say, the motives, object, or basis of teaching of his 
opponents, who came with " epistles of commendation " to the 
church of Corinth, 2 Cor. iii. 1 ; who profess themselves " to 
be Christ s " in a special sense, 2 Cor. x. 7 ; who say they 
are of Apollos, or Cephas, or Christ, 1 Cor. i. 12 ; or James, 
Gal. ii. 12 ; who preach Christ of contention, Phil. i. 15, 17 ; 
who deny St. Paul s authority, 1 Cor. ix. 1, Gal. iv. 16 ; who 
slander his life, 1 Cor. ix. 3, 7. We meet these persons at 
every turn. Are they the same, or different? Are they 
mere chance opponents ? or do they represent to us one spirit, 
one mission, one determination to root out the Apostle and his 
doctrine from the Christian Church ? 

Nothing but the fragmentary character of St. Paul s writ 
ings would conceal from us the fact, that here was a concerted 
and continuous opposition. The same features recur, the 
same spirit breathes, the same accusations are repeated 
against the Apostle. Of going back to dumb idols there is 
never a word ; it is not that sort of return which Paul fears, 
but the enforcement of circumcision, the observance of days 


and weeks, the loss of the freedom of the Gospel. It hardly 
needs to be proved, that St. Paul everywhere and at all times 
met with opposition ; it is equally evident on the surface of 
the Epistles, that this opposition chiefly proceeded from Ju- 
daizing Christians. Still the question recurs, In what rela 
tion did its leaders stand to the Apostles at Jerusalem ? Be 
fore attempting to .answer this question finally, we must pause 
a moment to collect in one the evidence supplied by the Acts 
of the Apostles. 

That from the beginning the elements of a division existed 
in the Christian Church is clear from the murmuring of the 
Grecians against the Hebrews for the neglect of their widows 
in the daily ministration, which led to the appointment of the 
seven deacons. Indeed, they may be said to have pre-existed 
in the Jewish and Gentile world ; many " schoolmasters " 
were bringing men to Christ, and the past history of man, 
then as now, seemed occasionally to reawaken in the feelings 
of individuals. A first epoch in the history of the division is 
marked by the death of Stephen, which scattered a portion 
of the Church, whom the very circumstance of their persecu 
tion, as well as their dispersion in foreign countries, would 
tend to alienate from the observance of the Jewish law. A 
second epoch is distinguished by the preaching of St. Paul 
at Antioch ; immediately after which we are informed that 
the disciples were first called Christians. Then follows the 
Council, the more exact account of which is supplied by the 
Epistle to the Galatians, to which, however, one point is 
added in the narrative of the Acts, the mention of certain 
who came from Jerusalem to Antioch, saying, " Except ye 
be circumcised, ye cannot be saved." Passing onwards a 
little, we arrive at the address of St. Paul to the elders of 
the church of Ephesus (Acts xx. 29, 30), which seems to 
allude to the same alienation from himself which had actually 
taken place in the Second Papistic to Timothy (2 Tim. i. 15). 
At length we come to St. Paul s last journey to Jerusalem, 
and his interview with James, which was the occasion on 
which, by the advice of James, he took a vow upon him, iu 


hope of calming the apprehensions of the multitude of " the 
many thousand Jews who believed and were all zealous for 
the law," in which passage express reference is made to the 
decree of the Council. These leading facts are interspersed 
with slighter allusions, which must not be passed over as 
unimportant. Such are the words, " Of the rest durst no 
man join himself to them," indicating the way of life of the 
Apostles; "A great company of the priests -were obedient 
unto the faith," vi. 7 ; " They that were scattered abroad upon 
the persecution of Stephen, preached the word to Jews only," 
viii. 4 ; the priority attributed to James in Acts xii. 17, " Go 
show these things to James and the brethren " ; the mention 
of the alms brought by Barnabas and Saul to Jerusalem in 
the days of Claudius Cossar, xi. 29. Such in the latter half 
of the Acts (xxiii. 6) is the declaration of St. Paul that he 
is a Pharisee. Nor is it without significance, that, in the dis 
cussion of this question of the admission of the Gentiles, no 
reference is made to the command of the Gospels, " Go and 
baptize all nations," nor to the intercourse of Peter with Cor 
nelius ; and that nowhere are the other Apostles described as 
at variance with the Jewish Christians ; nor in the whole 
later history of the Acts as suffering persecution from the 
Jews, or as taking any share in the persecution of St. Paul. 
Now, with all the circumstances of the case before us, 
what shall we say in reply to the question from which we 
digressed ? What was the relation of the Judaizing Chris 
tians to the Apostles at Jerusalem ? Did those who remained 
behind in the Church regard the death of the martyr Stephen 
with the same feelings as those who were scattered abroad ? 
Were the Apostles at Jerusalem one in heart with the breth 
ren at Antioch ? Were the teachers who came from Jeru 
salem to Antioch, saying, " Except ye be circumcised, ye 
cannot be saved," commissioned by the Twelve ? Were the 
Twelve absolutely at one among themselves ? Are the com 
mendatory epistles spoken of in the Epistle to the Corin 
thians, to be ascribed to the Apostles at Jerusalem ? Can 
"the grievous wolves," whose entrance into the Church oi 


Ephesus the Apostle foresaw, be other than the Judaizing 
teachers ? Lastly, Were the multitude of believing Jews, 
zealous for the law, and quickened in their zeal for it by the 
very sight of St. Paul, engaged in the tumult which follows ? 
These are different ways of stating the same question, or sub 
ordinate questions connected with it, which of themselves 
assist in supplying an answer. 

If we conceive of the Apostles as exercising a strict and 
definite authority over the multitude of their converts, living 
heads of the Church as they might be termed, Peter or 
James of the circumcision, and Paul of the uncircumcision, 
it would be hard to avoid connecting them with the acts of 
their followers. One would think that, in accordance with 
the spirit of the concordat, they should have " delivered over 
to Satan " the opponents of St. Paul, rather than have lived in 
communion and company with them. To hold out the right 
hand of fellowship to Paul and Barnabas, and yet secretly to 
support or not to discountenance those who opposed them, 
would be little short of treachery to their common Master, 
especially when we observe how strongly the Judaizers are 
characterized by St. Paul as the false brethren who came in 
unawares, the false Apostles transforming themselves into 
Apostles of Christ, " grievous wolves entering in," &c. Noth 
ing can be more striking than the contrast between the vehe 
mence with which St. Paul treats his Judaizing antagonists, 
and the gentleness or silence which he never fails to preserve 
towards the Apostles at Jerusalem. 

Yet it may be questioned whether the whole difficulty does 
not arise from a false conception of the authority of the Apos 
tles in the early Church. Although the first teachers of the 
word of Christ, they were not the acknowledged rulers of the 
Catholic Church ; they were its prophets, not its bishops. 
The influence which they exercised was personal rather than 
official, derived doubtless from their having seen the Lord, 
and the fact of their appointment by himself, yet confined 
also to a comparatively narrow sphere ; it was exercised in 
places in which they were, but hardly extended to places 


where they were not. The Gospel grew up around them, 
they could not tell how ; and the spirit which their preaching 
awakened soon passed out of their control. They seemed no 
longer to be the prime movers, but rather the spectators of 
the work of God which went on before their eyes. The 
thousands of Jews that believed and were zealous for the law, 
would not lay aside the garb of Judaism at the bidding of 
James or Peter ; the false teachers of Corinth or of Ephesus 
would not have been less likely to gain followers, had they 
been excommunicated by them. The movement which, in 
twenty years from the death of Christ, had spread so widely 
over the earth, they no more sought to reduce to rule and 
compass. It was out of their power, beyond their reach, ex 
tending to churches which had no connection with themselves, 
of the circumstances of which they were hardly informed, and 
in which, therefore, it was not natural that they should inter 
fere between St. Paul and his opponents. 

The moment we think of the Church, not as an ecclesias 
tical or political institution, but as it was -in the first age, a 
spiritual body, that is to say, a body partly moved by the 
Spirit of God, but dependent also on the tempers and sympa 
thies of men, and swayed to and fro by religious emotion, the 
narrative of Scripture seems perfectly truthful and natural. 
When the waves are high, we see but a little way over the 
ocean ; the very intensity of religious feeling is inconsistent 
with a uniform level of church government. It is not a regu 
lar hierarchy, but " some apostles, some prophets, some evan 
gelists, others pastors and teachers," who grew together " into 
the body of Christ." The image of the earlier Church that 
is everywhere presented to us in the Epistles implies great 
freedom of individual action. Apollos and Barnabas were not 
under the guidance of Paul ; those " who were distinguished 
among the Apostles before him " could hardly have owned his 
authority. Nor is any attempt made to bring the different 
churches under a common system. We cannot imagine any 
bond by which they could have been linked together, without 
an order of clergy or form of church government common to 


them all ; and of this there is no trace in the Epistles of St. 
Paul. It was hard to keep the church at Corinth at unity 
with itself; how much harder to have brought other churches 
into union with it ! 

Of this fluctuating state of the Church, which was not yet 
addicted to any one rule, we find an indication of a different 
kind in the freedom, almost levity, with which professing 
Christians embraced " traditions of men." Nothing was less 
like the attitude of the church of Corinth towards the Apos 
tle, than the implicit belief in a faith " once delivered to the 
saints." We know not whether Apollos was or was not a 
teacher of Alexandrian learning among its members, or what 
was the exact nature of " the party of Christ," 1 Cor. i. 12. 
That heathen as well as Jewish elements had found their way 
into the Church is indicated by the false " wisdom," the denial 
of the resurrection, and the resort to the idol s temple. In the 
church at Colossse, again, something was suspected by the 
Apostle, which is dimly seen by us, and seems to have held 
an intermediate position between Judaism and heathenism ; or 
rather to have partaken of the nature of both. It was wis 
dom the Greek sought after, the want of which in the Gospel 
was his great stumbling-block, which he was most likely, 
therefore, to intrude upon its teaching. The tendency of the 
Jew was at once to humanize and mysticize it ; he could never 
have enough of wonders (1 Cor. i. 22), yet was unable to 
understand its true wonder, " the cross of Christ." 

Amid such fluctuation and variety of opinions we can imag 
ine Paul and Apollos, or Paul and Peter, preaching side by 
side in the church of Corinth or of Antioch, like Wesley and 
Whitefield in the last century, or Luther and Calvin at the 
Reformation, with a sincere reverence for each other, not 
abstaining from commenting on or condemning each other s 
doctrine or practice, and yet also forgetting their differences 
in their common zeal to save the souls of men. Personal re 
gard is quite consistent with differences of religious belief; 
some of which, with good men, are a kind of form, belonging 
only to their outer nature, most of which, as we hope, exist 


only on this side the grave. We can imagine the followers oi 
such men as we have been describing incapable of acting in 
their noble spirit, with a feebler sense of their high calling, 
and a stronger one of their points of disagreement ; losing 
the great principle for which they were alike contending ir 
"oppositions of knowledge," in prejudice and personality. 
And lastly, we may conceive the disciples of Wesley or of 
Whitefield (for of the Apostles themselves we forbear to 
move the question) reacting upon their masters, and drawing 
them into the vicious circle of controversy, disuniting them in 
their lives, though at the last hour incapable of making a sep 
aration between them. 

Of such a nature we believe the differences to have been 
which separated St. Paul and the Twelve, arising in some 
degree from differences of individual character, but much 
more from their followers, and the circumstances of their lives. 
They were differences which seldom brought them into con 
tact, and once or twice only into collision ; they did not with 
logical exactness divide the world. It may have been, " I 
unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision " ; and yet 
St. Paul may have felt a deep respect for those " that seemed 
to be pillars," and they may have acknowledged thankfully the 
success of his labors. It is not even necessary to suppose 
that the agreement of the Council, the terms of which are dif 
ferently described in Galatians ii. and Acts xv., was minutely 
observed for a long period of years. The freedom which 
made it possible that the differences between Jew and Gentile 
should coexist, made it impossible that the Twelve should 
always be able to control their followers, and unlikely that 
they themselves should wholly abstain from showing their 
sympathy towards those who seemed to be joined to them by 
the ties of nationality. A party in the church of Corinth 
sought to call itself by their name, in opposition to that of St. 
Paul : it was they, probably, who gave " the epistles of com 
mendation " to those who taught at Corinth : they, or at least 
one of their number, sent messengers from Jerusalem to An- 
tioch, at a critical moment, in the dispute about circumcision. 


Admitting even the darkest color that can be put upon 
these latter facts, still* the absence of all hostile allusion to the 
Twelve in the writings of St. Paul, the circumstance of the 
Jerusalem church being supported by the contributions of 
the Gentiles, the other circumstance of teachers of the cir 
cumcision being among the companions of St. Paul in his 
imprisonment (Col. iv. 10, 11), the appeal to the witness 
and example of the other Apostles (1 Cor. xv. 5, ix. 5), are 
sufficient to justify the view which we took at the outset of 
the relation of St. Paul to the Twelve : " Separation, not 
opposition, antagonism of the followers rather than of the 
leaders, personal antipathy of the Judaizers to St. Paul, more 
than of St. Paul to the Judaizers." Many things must have 
been done by the fanaticism of professing adherents, of which 
it was impossible for the Twelve to approve, which, when 
separated by distance, it was equally impossible for them to 
repress. Even at Jerusalem, under the eye of the Apostles, 
though it may be uncertain whether " the multitude zealous 
for the law " were the same or partly the same with that 
which was engaged in the tumult against St. Paul, it is plain 
that James speaks of them as incapable of being swayed by 
his authority. It was the impossibility of exercising this 
authority that justified the Twelve, and made it possible, in 
spite of their adherents, that they should remain in the love 
of their common Lord towards St. Paul. 

Regarding, then, the whole number of believers in Judaaa, in 
Greece, in Italy, in Egypt, in Asia, as a sort of fluctuating 
mass, of whom there were not many wise, not many learned, 
not all governed by the maxims of common prudence, needing 
many times to have the way of God expounded to them more 
perfectly, and, from their imperfect knowledge, arrayed against 
one another, subject to spiritual impulses, and often mingling 
with the truth Jewish and sometimes heathen notions ; we 
seem to see the Twelve placed on an eminence above them, 
and, as it were, apart from them, acting upon them rather than 
governing them, retired from the scene of St. Paul s labors, 
and therefore hardly coming into conflict with him, either by 


word or by letter. They led a life such as St. James is 
described as leading by Hegesippus, " going up into the 
temple at the hour of prayer," reverenced by a multitude of 
followers zealous for the law, themselves, like Peter, half 
conscious of a higher truth, and yet by their very position 
debarred from being its ministers. Though bearing the com 
mon name of Christ, it was not by accident, but by agreement, 
that they were led to labor in different spheres. The world, 
as we might say, was wide enough for them both. The Apos 
tle St. Paul s rule is not to intrude upon another man s labors, 
but he does not aim at confining any province or district to 
himself or to his followers. He makes no claim to be the visi 
ble head of any section of the Church, but only the servant of 
Christ. Even the hold he retains over his own converts is 
precarious and uncertain. The idea of a Catholic Church 
one and indivisible throughout the earth had not as yet come 
into existence, though, the way for it was preparing, and the 
elements out of which it arose were already working. 

The inquiry into the relation in which St. Paul stood to 
the Twelve runs up into a further question respecting the 
Gospel which they preached. " What was that different 
form or aspect of Christian truth which was called the Gospel 
of the circumcision, as compared with that of the uncircum- 
cision ? " Was it a difference of doctrine or of practice, of 
belief or of spirit ? Viewed as a matter of doctrine, we are 
almost surprised to find into how small a compass the differ 
ence reduces itself. So St. Paul himself seems to have felt, 
even amid his strongest denunciations of the Judaizing teach 
ers. All were baptized in the name of Christ, with whom 
the Twelve had walked while he was upon earth ; whom St. 
Paul, equally with them, had seen with the spiritual eye, as 
" one born out of du.e time." It was the same Christ whom 
they preached (there was no dispute about this), though the 
manner of preaching may have differed with difference of 
natural character or education, or the different manner of his 
revelation to them. " Other foundation could no man lay," as 
the Apostle says to the church at Corinth, though he might 


build many superstructures. It was not "another Gospel," 
as he indignantly declares to the church in Galatia, for there 
was not and could not be another. Or, according to another 
manner of speaking (2 Cor. xi. 4), it was still Jesus, though 
another Jesus ; and the spirit, though another spirit. In the 
church of Rome, as the Apostle writes to the Philippians, 
.there were those who preached Christ of contention, in which 
the Apostle nevertheless rejoiced, as an honor to the name of 
Christ. That in the Judaizing teachers, as well as the Apos 
tles themselves, St. Paul saw at any time true though mis 
taken preachers of the Word, is a fact of great significance in 
reference to our present purpose. The cross of Christ was 
peculiarly the symbol of St. Paul, yet all probably, or almost 
all, looked with common feelings of affection to Him who died 
for them. 

But not only did St. Paul and the Twelve regard the name 
of Christ with the same feelings (a statement which might be 
made almost equally of nearly all the earliest heretical sects), 
but they agreed also in considering the Old Testament, rightly 
understood, as the source of the New. The mystery of past 
ages was latent there. Through so many centuries, it had 
been misunderstood or unknown : it had now come to light. 
The same God who at sundry times and in divers manners 
.spake in times past to the fathers by the prophets, had in 
these last days spoken to men by his Son. There was no 
opposition between the Old Testament and the New ; it was 
the law, with its burden on the conscience, and its questions 
respecting meats and drinks, and new moons and Sabbaths, 
which contrasted with the Gospel. 

Once more : besides the name of Christ, and the connection 
of the Old and New Testament, another point common to St. 
Paul and the Twelve was their expectation of the day of the 
Lord. Nowhere does the Apostle appear so much " a He 
brew of the Hebrews," as in speaking of the invisible world. 
He opposes this world and the next, as the times before and 
after the coining of the Messiah were divided by the Jews 
themselves ; he sees them peopled with a celestial hierarchy 


of good and evil angels. He is waiting for the revelation of 
Antichrist, and the manifestation of the sons of Goi. The 
same signs follow the reception of the Gospel in the churches 
founded by the Twelve and by St. Paul ; " The Holy Ghost 
fell upon them as upon us at the beginning," might have been 
the description of the church of Corinth, no less than of the 
church at Jerusalem. And, as St. Paul says, in the Epistle 
to the Romans, in reference to the admission of the Gentiles, 
" God is no respecter of persons," Peter commences his 
address to Cornelius with the words, " Of a truth I perceive 
God is no respecter of persons." 

Even setting aside the last passage, as hard to reconcile 
with the subsequent conduct of Peter, still enough remains to 
show that the Gospel preached by St. Paul and the Twelve 
was in substance the same. To preach to the Gentiles, it 
must be remembered, was a command of Christ himself. If, 
with the exception of the Epistle of St. James, we have no 
epistles extant which bear the impress of Jewish Christianit} r , 
still we can hardly doubt that the three first Gospels repre 
sent in the main the model on which was based the teaching of 
the Twelve ; that is to say, the difference between St. Paul s 
Epistles and the Gospel of St. Matthew is a fair measure of 
the utmost limits of the distance which separated the Apostle 
of the Gentiles from the Apostles of the Circumcision. 

Admitting such points of agreement, the differences lie 
within narrow limits ; they could not have originated in any 
thing that we should consider fundamental articles of the 
Christian faith. They may have arisen out of a sympathy 
for, or antipathy towards, the Alexandrian learning. The 
mere difference of language may have made the same kind 
of difference between the church at Jerusalem and those 
founded by St. Paul, as divides the Old Testament from the 
later Apocryphal books. Much also, humanly speaking, may 
have arisen from the difference in their way of life. Those 
who went up to the temple at the hour of prayer, who lived 
amid the smoke of the daily sacrifices, could hardly have felt 
and thought and spoken as the Apostle of the Gentiles, 


wandering through Greece and Asia, from city to city, in 
barbarous as well as civilized countries ; they at least could 
not have been expected to say, " Let no man judge you of a 
new moon or a Sabbath day." Like our Lord remaining 
within the confines of Judaea, there were many truths which 
they were not called upon to utter in the same emphatic way 
as St. Paul. 

Such are a few conjectures respecting the nature of the 
difference which separated St. Paul from the Twelve. The 
point that is independent of conjecture is, that it related to 
the obligation on the Gentiles to keep the Mosaic law. It 
is characteristic of the earliest times of the Church, that the 
dispute referred rather to a matter of practice than of doc 
trine. Long ere the Gospel was drawn out in a system of 
doctrine, the difference between Judaism and Christianity was 
instinctively felt. There were times and places in which, 
even in the mind of the Christian, Jewish prejudices seemed 
too strong for the freedom wherewith Christ had made him 
free. There was no difficulty in allowing that all nations 
were to be baptized in the name of Christ, and that there was 
to be one fold and one Shepherd. . This had been determined 
by an authority from which there could be no appeal. The 
difficulty was to go in " to men uncircumcised, and eat with 
them," amid the derision or persecution of Jews, or Jewish 
Christians. Our Lord had decided that Gentiles were to be 
admitted to the Church ; but on what conditions they were to 
be so admitted, was left to be inferred from the spirit of his 
teaching. There was no putting an end to the controversy ; 
and the timidity of St. Peter, and the conciliatory temper of 
St. Paul, indicate a disposition to maintain these scruples, or 
an unwillingness to disturb them. 

The adoption of a theory, which, however innocently, we 
fail to carry out in practice, almost necessarily involves incon 
sistency. Suppose a person maintaining liberty of conscience, 
yet refusing to avail himself of that liberty, or to act as 
though he maintained it, is it not nearly certain that, when 
surrounded by particular influences, he would cease to maintain 


it ? Few, comparatively, have sufficient strength of character 
to carry a single speculative principle through life. Expe 
rience shows that inconsistency, so far from being rare, is the 
commonest of all failings. Narrowness of intellect, and fee 
bleness of perception, are quite as common causes of it as 
weakness of character. The mind, under the pressure of new 
circumstances, and in a strange place, ceases to perceive that 
old principles are still applicable. Its sympathies draw it one 
way, its sense of right another. The habits of youth, or the 
instincts of childhood, reassert themselves in mature life. He 
who is the first, and even the ablest, to speak, may be often 
deficient in firmness of will or grasp of mind. Such reflec 
tions on human nature are sufficient to explain the conduct of 
Peter, and they are confirmed by what we know of him. 

Adding to our former indications of the relations in which 
the Apostle of the Gentiles stood to the Twelve such further 
evidences as we are able to glean from the teaching and 
character of St. Peter and St. Paul, we have to carry our 
inquiry into a third stage, as it reappears once more in what 
may be termed the twilight of ecclesiastical history, that 
century after the Neronian persecution, of which we know 
so little, and desire to know so much; the aching void of 
which we are tempted to fill up with the image of the century 
which succeeds it. To collect together all the scattered rays 
which might illustrate our subject, would carry us too far into 
the general history of the Church, and lead to discussions 
respecting the genuineness of Patristic writings, and the truth 
of events narrated in them. The " romance of heresy " 
would be the mist of fiction, through which we should en 
deavor to penetrate to the light. The origin of episcopal 
government, which seems to stand in a sort of antagonism to 
heresy, would be one of the elements of our uncertainty. 
We should have to begin by forming a criterion of the credi 
bility of Irenseus, Clement, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius. 
But a subject so wide is matter not for an essay, but for a 
book ; it is the history of the Church of the first two cen 
turies. We must therefore narrow our field of nsion as 


much as possible, and confine ourselves to the consideration 
of this third stage of our subject, so far as it throws a remote 
light back on the differences of the Apostles, drawing con 
clusions only which rest on facts that are generally admitted. 

Two general facts meet us at the outset, which it is neces 
sary to bear in mind in the attempt . to balance the more par 
ticular statements that follow. First, the utter ignorance oi 
the third century respecting the first, and earlier half of the 
second. We cannot err in supposing that those who could 
add nothing to what is recorded in the New Testament of the 
life of Christ and his Apostles, had no real knowledge of 
lesser matters, as, for example, the origin of episcopacy. 
They could not appreciate ; they had no tneans of preserving 
the memory of a state of the Church which was unlike their 
own. Irenaeus, who lived within a century of St. Paul, has 
not added a single circumstance to what we gather from the 
New Testament. Eusebius, with the writings of Papias and 
Hegesippus, and all ecclesiastical antiquity before him, has 
preserved nothing which relates to the difference of St. Paul 
and the Twelve, or which throws the smallest light on any 
other difficulty in the New Testament. The image of the 
primitive Church which they seemed to see, when it was not 
mere vacancy, was the image of themselves. 

The second general fact is the unconsciousness of this igno 
rance, and the readiness with which the vacant space is filled 
up, and the Church of the second century assimilated to that 
of the third and fourth. Human nature tends to conceal that 
which is discordant to its preconceived notions ; silently 
dropping some facts, exaggerating others, adding, where 
needed, new tone and coloring, until the disguise of history 
can no longer be detected. By some such process has the 
circumstance we are inquiring into been forgotten and re 
produced. Not only what may be termed the " animus " of 
concealment is traceable in the strange account of the dispute 
between the Apostles, given by Jerome and Chrysostom, but 
in earlier writings, in which the two Apostles appear side by 
side as cofounders, not only of the Roman, but also of the 



Corinthian church ; as pleading their cause together before 
Tiberius ; dying on the same day ; buried, according to some, 
in the same grave. The motive, or, more strictly speaking, 
the unconscious instinct, which gave birth to this acknowl 
edged fiction was, probably, the desire to throw a veil over 
that occasion on which they withstood one another to the face. 
And the truth indistinctly shines through this legend of the 
latter part of the second century, when it is further recorded 
that St. Paul was the head of the Gentile Church, Peter of 
the circumcision. 

Bearing in mind these two general facts, the tendency of 
which is to throw a degree of doubt on the early ecclesiastical 
tradition, and so to lead us to seek for indications out of the 
regular course of history, we have to consider, in reference to 
our present subject, the following statements : 

1. That Justin, and probably Hegesippus and Papias, liv 
ing at a time when the Epistles of St. Paul must have been 
widely spread, were unacquainted with them or their author. 

2. That Marcion, who was their contemporary, appealed 
exclusively to the authority of St. Paul in opposition to the 

3. That in the account of James the Just, given by Jose- 
phus and Hegesippus, he is represented as a Jew among 
Jews ; living, according to Hegesippus, the life of a Nazarite ; 
praying in the temple until his knees became hard as a 
camel s, and so entirely a Jew as to be unknown to the people 
for a Christian ; a picture which, though its features may be 
exaggerated, yet has the trace of a true resemblance to the 
part which we find him acting in the Epistle to the Galatians. 

4. That in the Clementine Homilies, A. D. 160, though a 
work otherwise orthodox, St. Paul is covertly introduced 
under the name of Simon Magus, as the enemy who had pre 
tended visions and revelations, and who withstood and blamed 
Peter. No writer doubts the allusion in these passages to 
the Epistle to the Galatians. Assuming their connection, we 
cannot but ask, as bearing on our present inquiry, What was 
tbe state of mind which could have led an orthodox Christian, 


who lived probably at Rome, about the middle of the second 
century, to atfix such a character to St. Paul ? and what was 
the motive which induced him to veil his meaning ? What, 
too, could have been the state of the Church in which such a 
romance could have grown up? and how could the next 
generation have read it without perceiving its true aim? 
Doubtful as may be the precise answer to these questions, we 
cannot attribute this remarkable work to the wayward fancy 
of an individual ; it is an indication of a real tendency of the 
first and second century, at a time when the flame was almost 
extinguished, but still slumbered in the mind of the writer of 
the Clementine Homilies. 

5. Lastly, that in later writings we find no trace of the 
mind of St. Paul. His influence, for a season, seems to 
vanish from the world. On such a basis as " where the 
Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty," it might have been 
impossible to rear the fabric of a hierarchy. But the tide of 
ecclesiastical feeling set in an opposite direction. It was not 
merely that after-writers fell short of St. Paul, or imperfectly 
interpreted him, but that they formed themselves on a differ 
ent model. It was not merely that the external constitution 
of the Church had received a definite form and shape, but 
that the inward perception of the nature of the Gospel was 
different. No writer of the latter half of the second century 
would have spoken as St. Paul has done of the Law, of the 
Sabbath, of justification by faith only, of the Spirit, of grace. 
An echo of a part of his teaching is heard in Augustine ; 
with this exception, the voice of him who withstood Peter to 
the face at Antioch was silent in the Church until the Refor 

Gathering around us, then, once more, the grounds on 
which our judgment must be formed from the Epistles of St. 
Paul, the Acts of the Apostles, and the earliest ecclesiastical 
tradition, we arrive once more at the thrice-repeated conclu 
sion, that the relation of St. Paul and the Twelve was separa 
tion, not opposition ; antagonism of the followers, rather than 
of the leaders ; enmity of the Judaizers to St, Paul, not of 


St. Paul to the Judaizers. Naturally, the principle of the 
Apostle was triumphant; commencing like the struggle of 
Athanasius against the world, it ended as the struggle of the 
world must end against the half-extinct remnant of the Jewish 
race. But the good fight which the Apostle fought, was not 
immediately crowned by the final victory. In the dawn of 
ecclesiastical history, as the Twelve were one by one with 
drawn from the scene, the battle was still going on, dimly 
seen by us within and without the Church ; its last shadows 
seeming to retire from view in the Easter controversy of the 
second century. Two events especially exercised a great 
influence on it. First, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the 
flight to Pella of the Christian community ; secondly, the 
revolt under Barchocab ; both tending to separate, more and 
more, both in fact and the opinion of mankind, the Christian 
from the Jew. At length, the succession of Jewish Christian 
episcopacy ceased ; the first Bishop of -ZElia Capitolina being 
a Gentile. 

.That that intermediate century of which we know so little 
was not a period in which the Church had reason to glory, is 
witnessed to by the very absence of memorials respecting it. 
There was a want of great teachers after the Apostles were 
withdrawn ; then, according to the idea of a later generation, 
when there were no more living heads, heresy sprang up. 
There was something in that century which those who fol 
lowed it were either unwilling to recall, or unable to compre 
hend. The Church was in process of organization, fencing 
itself with creeds and liturgies, taking possession of the earth 
with its hierarchy. The principle of St. Paul triumphs, and 
yet it seems to have lost the spirit and power of St. Paul. 
There is no more question of Jew and Gentile ; but neither 
is there any trace of the freedom of the Apostle. The lesson 
which that age silently learned, was that of ecclesiastical 
order and government. It built up the body of Christ from 
without, as St. Paul had built it up from within. And there 
would have been the same inconsistency in supposing that the 
doctrine of the Apostle could have been fully received in tae 


second century, as in supposing that he himself would have 
preached it in Palestine in the first. 

It would be vain to carry our inquiry further, with a view 
to glean a few doubtful results respecting the first half of the 
second century. Remote probabilities and isolated facts are 
hardly worth balancing. By some course of events with 
which we are imperfectly acquainted, the providence of God 
leading the way, and the thoughts of man following, the Jewish 
Passover became the Christian Easter ; the Jewish Sabbath 
the Christian Sunday ; circumcision passed into uncircum- 
cision ; the law was done away in Christ, while the Old Tes 
tament retained its authority over Gentile as well as Jewish 
Christians ; and the party which would have excommunicated 
St. Paul, before the end of the second century had itself left 
the Church. The relation of St. Paul to the Twelve may be 
regarded as the type and symbol, and, in some degree, the 
cause of that final adjustment of the differences between Jew 
and Gentile, without which it would not have been possible, 
humanly speaking, that the Gospel could have become an 
universal religion. 



WERE we, with the view of forming a judgment of the 
moral state of the early Church, to examine the subjects of 
rebuke most frequently referred to by the Apostles, these 
would be found to range themselves under four heads : 
first, licentiousness ; secondly, disorder ; thirdly, scruples of 
conscience ; fourthly, strifes about doctrine and teachers. The 
consideration of these four subjects, the two former falling in 
with the argument of the Epistle to the Thessalonians, the 
two latter more closely connected with the Romans and the 
Galatians, will give what may be termed the darker side of 
the primitive Church. 

1. Licentiousness was the besetting sin of the Roman 
world. Except by a miracle, it was impossible that the new 
converts could be at once and wholly freed from it. It lin 
gered in the flesh when the spirit had cast it off. It had 
interwoven itself in the pagan religions ; and, if we may be 
lieve the writings of adversaries, was ever reappearing on 
the confines of the Church in the earliest heresies. Even 
within the pale of the Church, it might assume the form of a 
mystic Christianity. The very ecstasy of conversion would 
often lead to a reaction. Nothing is more natural than that 
in a licentious city, like Corinth or Ephesus, those who were 
impressed by St. Paul s teaching should have gone their way, 
and returned to their former life. In this case it would 


seldom happen that they apostatized into the ranks of the 
heathen: the same impulse which led them to the Gospel 
would lead them also to bridge the gulf which separated them 
from its purer morality. Many may have sinned and repent 
ed again and again, unable to stand themselves in the general 
corruption, yet unable to cast aside utterly the image of inno 
cence and goodness which the Apostle had set before them. 
There were those, again, who consciously sought to lead the 
double life, and imagined themselves to have found in licen 
tiousness the true freedom of the Gospel. 

The tone which the Apostle adopts respecting sins of the 
flesh differs in many ways from the manner of speaking of 
them among moralists of modern times. He says nothing of 
the poison which they infuse into society, or the consequences 
to the individual himself. It is not in this way that moral 
evils are presented to us in Scripture. Neither does he 
appeal to public opinion as condemning them, or dwell on the 
ruin involved in them to one half of the human race. True 
and forcible as these aspects of such sins are, they are the 
result of modern reflection, not the first instincts of reason 
and conscience. They strengthen the moral principles of 
mankind, but are not of a kind to touch the individual soul. 
They are a good defence for the existing order of society ; 
but they will not purify the nature of man, or extinguish the 
flames of lust. 

Moral evils in the New Testament are always spoken of as 
spiritual. They corrupt the soul ; they defile the temple of 
the Holy Ghost ; they cut men off from the body of Christ. 
Of morality, as distinct from religion, there is hardly a trace 
in the Epistles of St. Paul. What he seeks to penetrate is 
the inward nature of sin, not its outward effects. Even its 
consequences in another state of being are but slightly touched 
upon, in comparison with that living death which itself is. It 
is not merely a vice or crime, or even an offence against the 
law of God, to be punished here or hereafter. It is more 
than this. It is what men feel within, not what they observe 
without them, not what shall be, but what is, a terrible 


consciousness, a mystery of iniquity, a communion with un 
seen powers of evil. 

All sin is spoken of in the Epistles of St. Paul as rooted 
in human nature, and quickened by the consciousness of law ; 
but especially is this the case with the sin which is more than 
any other the type of sin in general, fornication. It is, in a 
peculiar sense, the sin of the flesh, with which the very idea 
of the corruption of the flesh is closely connected, just as, in 
1 Thess. iv. 3, the idea of holiness is regarded as almost 
equivalent to abstinence from the commission of it. It is a 
sin against a man s own body, distinguished from all other 
sins by its personal and individual nature. No other is at the 
same time so gross and so insidious ; no other partakes so 
much of the slavery of sin. As marriage is the type of the 
communion of Christ and his Church, as the body is the 
member of Christ, so the sin of fornication is a strange and 
mysterious union with evil. 

But although such is the tone of the Apostle, there is no 
violence to human nature in his commands respecting it. He 
knew how easily extremes meet, how hard it is for asceticism 
to make clean that which is within, how quickly it might itself 
pass into its opposite. Nothing can be more different from 
the spirit of early ecclesiastical history on this subject, than 
the moderation of St. Paul. The remedy for sin is not celi 
bacy, but marriage. Even second marriages are, for the 
prevention of sin, to be encouraged. In the same spirit is his 
treatment of the incestuous person. He had committed a sin 
not even named among the Gentiles, for. which he was to be 
delivered unto Satan, for which all the Church should humble 
themselves ; yet upon his true repentance, no ban is to sepa 
rate him from the rest of the brethren, no doom of endless 
penance is recorded against him. Whatever might have 
been the enormity of his offence, he was to be forgiven, as in 
heaven, so on earth. 

The manner in which the Corinthian church are described 
as regarding this offence, before the Apostle s rebuke to them, 
no less than the lenient sentence of the Apostle himself after- 



wards, as well as his constant admonitions on the same sub 
ject in all his Epistles, must be regarded as indications of the 
slate of morality among the first converts. Above all other 
things, the Apostle insisted on purity as the first note of the 
Christian character ; and yet the very earnestness and fre 
quency of his warnings show that he is speaking, not of a sin 
hardly named among saints, but of one the victory over which 
was the greatest and most difficult triumph of the cross of 

2. It is hard to resist the impression which naturally arises 
in our minds, that the early Church was without spot, or 
wrinkle, or any such thing ; as it were, a bride adorned for 
her husband, the type of Christian purity, the model of Apos 
tolical order. The real image is marred with human frailty ; 
its evils, perhaps, arising more from this cause than any other, 
that in its commencement it was a kingdom not of this world ; 
in other words, it had no political existence or legal support ; 
hence there is no evil more frequently referred to in the 
.Epistles than disorder. 

This spirit of disorder was manifested in various ways. In 
the church of Corinth the communion of the Lord s Supper 
was administered so as to be a scandal ; " one was hungry, 
and another was drunken." There was as yet no rite or 
custom to which all conformed. In the same church the 
spiritual gifts were manifested without rule or order. It 
seemed as if God was not the author of peace, but of confu 
sion. All spoke together, men and women, apparently with 
out distinction, singing, praying, teaching, uttering words 
unintelligible to the rest, with no regular succession or subor 
dination (1 Cor. xiv.). The scene in their assemblies was 
such, that if an unbeliever had come in, he would have said 
they were mad. 

Evils of this kind in a great measure arose from the ab 
sence of church authority. Even the Apostle himself per 
suades more often than commands, and often uses language 
which implies a sort of hesitation whether his rule would be 
acknowledged or not. The diverse offices, the figure of the 


members and the body, do not refer to what was, but to what 
ought to be, to an ideal of harmonious life and action, which 
the Apostle lolds up before them, which in practice was far 
from being realized. The Church was not organized, but was 
in process of organization. Its only punishment was excom 
munication, which, as in modern so in primitive times, could 
not le enforced against the wishes of the majority. In two 
caf,3s only are members of the Church " delivered unto Satan " 
(1 Cor. v. 5 ; 1 Tim. i. 20). It was a moral and spiritual, 
not a legal control, that was exercised. Hence the frequent 
admonitions given, doubtless because they were needed : 
" Obey them that have the rule over you." 

A second kind of disorder arose from unsettlement of mind. 
Of such unsettlement we find traces in the levity and vanity 
of the Corinthians ; in the fickleness with which the Gala- 
tians left St. Paul for the false teachers ; almost (may we not 
say?) in the very passion with which the Apostle addresses 
them ; above all, in the case of the Thessalonians. How few 
among all the converts were there capable of truly discern 
ing their relation to the world around ! or of supporting them 
selves alone when the fervor of conversion had passed away, 
and the Apostle was no longer present with them ! They had 
entered into a state so different from that of their fellow- 
men, that it might well be termed supernatural. The ordi 
nary experience of men was no longer their guide. They left 
their daily employments. The great change which they felt 
within seemed to extend itself without, and involve the world 
in its shadow. So " palpable to sense " was the vision of 
Christ s coming again, that their only fear or doubt was how 
the departed would have a share in it. No religious belief 
could be more unsettling than this : that to-day, or to-morrow, 
or the third day, before the sun set or the dawn arose, the 
sign of the Son of Man might appear in the clouds of heaven. 
It was not possible to take thought for the morrow, to study 
to be quiet and get their own living, when men hardly ex 
pected the morrow. Death comes to individuals now, as 
nature prepares them for it ; but the immediate expectation 


of Christ s coming is out of the course of nature. Young 
and old alike look for it. It is a resurrection of the world 
itself, and implies a corresponding revolution in the thoughts, 
feelings, and purposes of men. 

A third kind of disorder may have arisen from the same 
causes, but seems to have assumed another character. As 
among the Jews, so among the first Christians, there were 
those who needed to be perpetually reminded, that the powers 
that be were ordained of God. The heathen converts could 
not at once lay aside the licentiousness of manners amid 
which they had been brought up ; no more could the Jew 
ish converts give up their aspirations, that at this time " the 
kingdom was to be restored to Israel," which had perhaps 
been in some cases their first attraction to the Gospel. A 
community springing up in Palestine under the dominion 
of the Romans, could not be expected exactly to draw the 
line between the things that were Caesar s and the things 
that were God s, or to understand in what sense " the chil 
dren were free," in what sense it was nevertheless their 
duty to pay tribute. The frequent exhortations to obey 
magistrates, are a proof at once of the tendency to rebellion, 
and of the energy with which the Apostles set themselves 
against it. 

3. The third head of our inquiry related to scruples of 
conscience, which were chiefly of two kinds ; regarding either 
the observance of days, or the eating with the unclean or unbe 
lievers. "Were they, or were they not, to observe the Jewish 
Sabbath, or new moon, or passover ? Such questions as these 
are not to be considered the fancies or opinions of individuals ; 
but, as mankind are quick enough to discover, involve general 
principles, and are but the outward signs of some deep and 
radical difference. In the question of the observance ot 
Jewish feasts, and still more in the question of going in unto 
men uncircumcised and eating with them, was implied the 
whole question of the relation of the disciple of Christ to the 
Jew, just as the question of sitting at meat in the idol s tem 
ple was the question of the relation of the disciple of Christ 


to the Gentile. Was the Christian to preserve his caste, and 
remain within the pale of Judaism ? Was he in his daily life 
to cany his religious scruples so far as to exclude himself 
from the social life of the heathen world ? How much pru 
dence and liberty and charity was necessary for the solution 
of such difficulties ? 

Freedom is the key-note of the Gospel, as preached by St. 
Paul. " All things are lawful." " There is no distinction of 
Jew or Greek, barbarian or Scythian, bond or free." " Let 
no man judge you of a new moon or a Sabbath." " Where 
the spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." And yet, if we go 
back to its origin, the Christian Church was born into the 
world marked and diversified with the features of the relig 
ions that had preceded it, bound within the curtains of the 
tabernacle, colored with Oriental opinions that refused to be 
washed out of the minds of men. The scruples of individuals 
are but indications of the elements out of which the Church 
was composed. There were narrow paths in which men 
walked, customs which clung to them long after the reason of 
them had ceased, observances which they were unable to 
give up, though conscience and reason alike disowned them, 
which were based on the traditions of half the world, and 
could not be relinquished, however alien *to the spirit of the 
Gospel. Slowly and gradually, as Christianity itself became 
more spread, these remnants of Judaism or Orientalism dis 
appeared, and the spirit which had been taught from the 
beginning, made itself felt in the hearts of men and in the 
institutions of the Church. 

4. The heresies of the Apostolical age are a subject too 
wide for illustration in a note. We shall attempt no more 
than to bring together the names and heads of opinion which 
occur in Scripture, with the view of completing the preced 
ing sketch. 

There was the party of Peter and of Paul, of the circum 
cision and of the uncircumcision. There were t aose who 
knew Christ according to the flesh ; those who, like St. Paul, 
knew him only as revealed within. There were others who, 



after casting aside circumcision, were still struggling between 
the old dispensation and the new. There were those who 
never went beyond the baptism of John ; others, again, to 
whom the Gospel of Christ clothed itself in Alexandrian 
language. There were prophets, speakers with tongues, dis- 
cerners of spirits, interpreters of tongues. There were those 
who looked daily for the coming of Christ ; others who said 
that the Resurrection was passed already. There were seek 
ers after knowledge,, falsely so called ; worshippers of angels, 
intruders into things they had not seen. There were those 
who maintained an Oriental asceticism in their lives, " forbid 
ding to marry, commanding to abstain from meats." There 
was the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, the synagogue of Satan, 
who " said that they were Jews and are not," " the woman 
Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess." There were 
wild heretics, " many Antichrists," " grievous wolves, enter 
ing into the fold," apostasy of whole churches at once. There 
were mingled anarchy and licentiousness, " filthy dreamers, 
despising dominion, speaking evil of dignities," of whom no 
language is too strong for St. Paul or St. John to use, though 
they seem to have been separated by no definite line from the 
Church itself. There were fainter contrasts, too, of those 
who agreed in the "unity of the same spirit, aspects and points 
of view, as we term them, of faith and works, of the Epistle 
to the Romans and the Epistle to the Hebrews. 

How this outline is to be filled up must for ever remain, in 
a great degree, matter of speculation. Yet there is not a 
single trait here mentioned, which does not reappear in the 
second century, either within the Church or without it, more 
or less prominent as favored by circumstances or the reverse. 
The beginning of Ebionitism, Sabaism, Gnosticism, Mon- 
tanism, Alexandrianism, Orientalism, and of the wild licen 
tiousness which marked the course of several of them, are 
all discernible in the Apostolical age. They would be more 
correctly regarded, not as offshoots of Christianity, but as the 
soil in which it arose. Some of them seem to acquire a tem 
porary principle of life, and to grow up parallel with the 


Church itself. As opinions and tendencies of the human 
mind, many linger among us to the present day. Only after 
the destruction of Jerusalem, with the spread of the Gospel 
over the world, as the spirit of the East moves towards the 
West, Judaism fades and dies away, to rise again, as some 
hold, in the glorified form of a mediaeval Church. 

Such is the reverse side of the picture of the Apostolical 
age ; what proportions we should give to each feature it is 
impossible to determine. We need not infer that all churches 
were in the same disorder as Corinth and Galatia ; nor can 
we say how far the more flagrant evils were tamely submitted 
to by the Church itself. There was much of good that we 
can never know ; much also of evil. And perhaps the gen 
eral lesson which we gather from the preceding considera 
tions is, not that the state of the primitive Church was better 
or worse than our first thoughts would have suggested, but 
that its state was one in which good and evil exercised a more 
vital power, were more subtly intermingled with, and more 
easily passed into, each other. All things were coming to the 
birth, some in one way, some in another. The supports of 
custom, of opinion, of tradition, had given way ; human na 
ture was, as it were, thrown upon itself and the guidance of 
the spirit of God. There were as many diversities of human 
character in the world then as now ; more strange influences 
of religion and race than have ever since met in one ; a far 
greater yearning of the human intellect to solve the problems 
of existence. There was no settled principle of morality 
independent of and above religious convictions. All these 
causes are sufficient to account for the diversities of opinion 
or practice, as well as for the extremes which met in the 
bosom of the primitive Church, 



THE belief in the near approach of the coming of Christ is 
spoken of, or implied, in almost every book of the New Tes 
tament, in the discourses of our Lord himself as well as in 
the Acts of the Apostles, in the Epistles of St. Paul no less 
than in the Book of the Revelation. The remains of such a 
belief are discernible in the Montanism of the second century, 
which is separated by a scarcely definable line from the 
Church itself. Nor is there wanting in our own day a dim 
and meagre shadow of the same primitive faith, though the 
world appears dead to it, and all things remain the same as at 
the beginning. There are still those who argue from the very 
lapse of time, that " now is their salvation nearer than when 
they believed." All religious men have at times blended in 
their thoughts earth and heaven, while there are some who 
have raised their passing feelings into doctrinal truth, and 
have seemed to see in the temporary state of the first con 
verts the type of Christian life in all ages. 

The great influence which this belief exercised on the 
beginnings of the Church, and the degree of influence which 
it still retains, render the consideration of it necessary for the 
right understanding of St. Paul s Epistles. Yet it is a sub 
ject from which the interpreter of Scripture would gladly 
turn aside. For it seems as if he were compelled to say at 
the outset, " that St, Paul was mistaken, and that in support 


of his mistake he could appeal to the words of Christ himself." 
Nothing can be plainer than the meaning of those words, and 
yet they seem to be contradicted by the very fact that, after 
eighteen centuries, the world is as it was. In the words 
which are attributed, in the Epistle of St. Peter, to the unbe 
lievers of that day, we might truly say that, since the fathers 
have fallen asleep, all things remain the same from the be 
ginning. Not only do " all things remain the same," but the 
very belief itself (in the sense in which it was held by the 
first Christians) has been ready to vanish away. 

Why, then, were the traces of such a belief permitted to 
appear in the New Testament ? Some will say, " As a trial 
of our faith " ; others will have recourse to the double senses 
of prophecy, to divide the past from the future, the seen from 
the unseen. Others will cite its existence as a proof that the 
books of Scripture were compiled at a time when such a belief 
was still living, and this not without, but within, the circle of 
the Church itself. It may be also regarded as an indication 
that we were not intended to interpret Scripture apart from 
the light of experience, or violently to bend life and truth 
into agreement with isolated texts. Lastly, so far as we can 
venture to move such a question of our Lord himself, we may 
observe that his teaching here, as in other places, is on a level 
with the modes of thought of his age, clothed in figures, as it 
must necessarily be, to express " the things that eye hath not 
seen," limited by time, as if to give the sense of reality to 
what otherwise would be vague and infinite, yet mysterious in 
this respect too, for of " that hour knoweth no man " ; and 
that however these figures of speech are explained, or these 
opposite aspects reconciled, their meaning dimly seen has 
been the stay and hope of the believer in all ages, who knows, 
nevertheless, that since the Apostles have passed away, all 
things remain the same from the beginning, and that " the 
round world is set so fast that it cannot be moved." 

The surprise that we naturally feel, when the attention is 
first called to this singular discrepancy between faith and ex 
perience, is greatly lessened by our observing that even the 


language of Scripture is not free from inconsistency. For the 
words of our Lord himself are not more in apparent contra 
diction with the course of experience, than they are with 
other words which are equally attributed to him by the Evan 
gelists. He who says, " This generation shall not pass away 
until all these things be fulfilled," is the same as he who tells 
his disciples, " It is not for you to know the times and the 
seasons which the Father hath put in his own power," and 
" Of that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of God, nor 
the Son, but the Father." Is it reverent, or irreverent, to 
say that Christ knew what he himself declares " that he did 
not know " ? Is it consistent, or inconsistent, with the lan 
guage of the Gospels, that the Apostle St. Paul should at first 
have known no more than our Lord had taught his disciples : 
or that in the course of years only he should have grown uj 
to another and a higher truth, that " to depart and be with 
Christ was far better " ? Is it strange that, from time to time, 
he should change his tone, seeming by this very change to say 
" Whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell " ; 
when our Lord himself at one time speaks of " Jerusalem 
being encompassed by armies " ; at another, gives no answer 
to the question, " Where, Lord ? " but, " Where the carcass is, 
there will the eagles be gathered together " ? Our concep 
tion, both of place and time, becomes indistinct as we enter 
into the unseen world. And does not the Scripture itself 
acknowledge these necessary limits of its own revelation to 
man ? 

But instead of regarding this or any other fact of Scripture 
as a difficulty to be explained away, it will be more instruc 
tive for us to consider the nature of the belief, and its prob 
able effect on the infant communion. Strictly speaking, the 
expectation of the day of the Lord was not a belief, but a 
necessity, in the early Church ; clinging, as it did, to the 
thought of Christ, it could not bear to be separated from him : 
it was his absence, not his presence, that the first believers 
found it hard to realize. " Yet a little while, and they did 
not see him ; but yet a little while, and they would again see 


him." Nor was it possible for them at once to lay aside the 
material images in which the faith of prophets and psalmists 
had clothed the day of the Lord. We readily admit tha,t 
they lingered around " the elements of the law " ; but we must 
admit also that the imagery of the prophets had a reality and 
fact to them which it has not to us, who are taught by time 
kself that all these things " are a shadow, but the substance is 
of Christ." 

We naturally ask, Why a future life, as distinct from this, 
was not made a part of the first preaching of the Gospel ? 
Why, in other words, the faith of the first Christians did not 
exactly coincide with our own ? There are many ways in 
which the answer to this question may be expressed. The 
philosopher will say that the difference in the modes of 
thought of that age and our own, rendered it impossible, hu 
manly speaking, that the veil of sense should be altogether 
removed. The theologian will admit that Providence does 
not teach men that which they can teach themselves. While 
there are lessons which it immediately communicates, there is 
much which it leaves to be drawn forth by time and events. 
Experience may often enlarge faith, it may also correct it. 
No one can doubt that the faith and practice of the early 
Church, respecting the admission of the Gentiles, were greatly 
altered by the fact that the Gentiles themselves flocked in ; 
" The kingdom of heaven suffered violence, and the violent 
took it by force." In like manner, the faith respecting the 
coming of Christ was modified by the continuance of the world 
itself. Common sense suggests, that those who were in the 
first ecstasy of conversion, and those who after the lapse of 
years saw the world unchanged, and the fabric of the Church 
on earth rising around them, could not regard the day of the 
Lord with the same feelings. While to the one it seemed 
near and present, at any moment ready to burst forth, to the 
other it was a long way off, separated by time, and as it were 
by place, a world beyord the stars, yet, strangely enough, 
also having its dwelling in the heart of man, as it were the 
atmosphere in which he lived, the mental world by which he 


was surrounded. Not at once, but gradually, did the cloud 
clear up, and the one mode of faith take the place of the other. 
Apart from the prophets, though then, beyond them, spring 
ing up in a new and living way in the soul of man, corrected 
by long experience, as the " fathers one by one fell asleep," 
as the hope of the Jewish race declined, as ecstatic gifts 
ceased, as a regular hierarchy was established in the Church, 
the belief in the coming of Christ was transformed from being 
outward to becoming inward, from being national to becom 
ing individual and universal, from being Jewish to becoming 

It must be admitted as a fact, that the earliest Christians 
spoke and thought about the coming of Christ in a way differ 
ent from that which prevails among ourselves. Admitting this 
fact, we have now to consider some of the many aspects of 
this belief, and its effect on the lives of believers. It is hard 
for us to define its exact character, because it is hard to con 
ceive a state of the Church, and of the human mind its If, 
unlike our own. In its origin it was simple and childlikf , the 
belief of men who saw but a little way into the purposes of 
Providence, who never dreamed of a vista of futurity. It was 
not what we should term an article of faith, but natural and 
necessary ; flowing immediately out of the life and state of 
the earliest believers. It was the feeling of men who looked 
for the coming of Christ as we might look for the return of a 
lost friend, many of whom had seen him on earth, and could 
not believe that he was taken from them for ever. But it was 
more than this ; it was the feeling of men who had an intense 
sense of the change that had been wrought in themselves, and 
to whom this change seemed like the beginning of a greater 
change that was to spread itself over the world. It was the 
feeling of men who looked back upon the past, of which they 
knew so little, and discerned in it the workings of the same 
spirit, one and continuous, which they felt in their own souls ; 
to whom the world within and the world without were reflect 
ed upon one another, and the history of the J ewish race waa 
a parable, an " open secret " of the things to come. It was 


the feeling of men, each moment of whose lives was the meet 
ing-point to them of heaven and earth, who scarcely thought 
either of the past or future in the eternity of the present. 

Let those who think this is an imaginary picture recall to 
mind, and compare with Scripture, either what they may have 
read in books or experienced in themselves, as the workings 
of a mind suddenly converted to the Gospel. Such an one 
seems to lose his measure of events, and his true relation to 
the world. While other men are going on with their daily 
occupations, he only is out of sympathy with nature, and has 
fears and joys in himself, which he can neither communicate 
nor explain to his fellows. It is not that he is thinking of 
the endless ages in which he will partake of heavenly bliss ; 
rather the present consciousness of sin, or the present sense 
of forgiveness and of peace in Christ, is already a sort of 
hell or heaven within him, which excludes the future. It is 
not that he has an increased insight into the original meaning 
of Scripture ; rather he seems to absorb Scripture into him 
self. Least of all have persons in such a state of mind dis 
tinct or accurate conceptions of the world to come. The 
images in which they express themselves are carnal and 
visible, often inconsistent with each other, if they are unedu 
cated, wanting in good taste, yet not the less the realization 
to them of a true and lively faith. The last thing that they 
desire, or could comprehend, is an intellectual theory of an 
other life. They seem hardly to need either statements of 
doctrine or the religious ministration of others ; their concern 
is with God only. 

Substitute now for an individual a church, a nation, the 
three thousand who were converted on the day of Pentecost, 
the multitudes of Jews that believed, zealous for the law ; 
imagine them changed at the same instant by one spirit, and 
we seem to see on a larger scale the same effects following. 
Their conversion is an exception to the course of nature ; 
itself a revelation and inspiration, a wonder of which they can 
give no account to themselves or others, not the least wonder 
ful part of which is their communion with one another. They 


come into existence as a society, with common hopes and 
fears, at one with each other, separated from mankind at 
iarge. What they feel within spreads itself over the world. 
The good ami evil that they are conscious of in themselves, 
seem to exist without them in aggravated proportions ; a fel 
lowship of the saints on one side, and a mystery of iniquity 
on the other. They do not read history, or comprehend the 
sort of imperfect necessity under which men act as creatures 
of their age. The same guilt which they acknowledge in 
themselves they attach to other men ; the same judgment 
which would await them is awaiting the world everywhere. 
In the events around them, in their own sufferings, in their 
daily life, they see the preparations for the great conflict be 
tween good and evil, between Christ and Belial, if, indeed, 
it be not already begun. The circle of their own life in 
cludes in it the destinies of the human race itself, of which it 
is, as it were, the microcosm, seen by the eye of faith and the 
light of inward experience. This is what the law and the 
prophets seemed to them to have meant when they spoke of 
God s judgments on his enemies, of the Lord coming with ten 
thousand of his saints. And the signs which were to accom 
pany these things were already seen among them, " not in 
word only, but in power, and in the Holy Spirit, and in much 

To us the preaching of the Gospel is a new beginning, 
from which we date all things, beyond which we neither desire 
nor are able to inquire. To the first believers it was other 
wise ; not the beginning of a new world, but the end of a 
former one. They looked back to the past, because the veil 
of the future was not yet lifted up. They were living in " the 
latter days," the confluence of all times, the meeting-point of 
the purposes of God. They read all things in the light of the 
approaching end of the world. They were not taught, and 
could not have imagined, that for eighteen centuries servants 
of God should continue on the earth, waiting, like themselves, 
for the promise of his coming. They were not taught, and 
could not have imagined, that after three centuries the Church 


which they saw poverty-stricken and persecuted should be the. 
mistress of the earth, and that, in another sense than they 
had hoped, the kingdoms of this world should become the 
Kngdoms of the Lord and of his Christ. Instead of it, they 
beheld in a figure the heavens opening, and the angels of God 
ascending and descending; the present outpouring of the 
Spirit, and the evil and perplexity of the world itself, being 
the earnest of the things which were shortly to come to pass. 
It has been often remarked, that the belief in the coming 
of Christ stood in the same relation to the Apostolic Church 
that the expectation of death does to ourselves. Certainly 
the absence of exhortations based upon the shortness of life, 
which are not unfrequent in the Old Testament, and are so 
familiar to our own day, forms a remarkable feature in the 
writings of the New Testament, and in a measure seems to 
confirm such an opinion. And yet the similarity is rather, 
apparent than real ; or, at any rate, the difference between 
the two is not less remarkable. For the feeble apprehension 
which each man entertains of his own mortality can bear no 
comparison with that living sense of the day of the Lord 
which was the habitual thought of the first Christians, which 
was not so much a " coming " as a " presence " to them, as its 
very name implied (irapova-ia). How different also was the 
event looked for, no less than the anticipation of it ! There 
is nothing terrible in death ; it is the repose of wearied na 
ture ; it steals men away one by one, while the world goes 
still on its way. We fear it at a distance, but not near. But 
the day of the Lord was to be a change, not to the individual 
only, but to the world ; a scene of great fear and great joy at 
once to the whole Church and to all mankind, which is in its 
very nature sudden, unexpected, coming " as a thief in the 
night, and as travail upon a woman with child." Yet it 
might be said to be expected, too, so strange and contradic 
tory is its nature ; for the first disciples were sitting waiting 
for it, " with their lamps lighted and their loins girded." It 
was not darkness, nor sleep, nor death, but a day of light and 
life, m the expectation of which men were to walk as children 


of the light, yet fearful by its very suddenness and the ven 
geance to be poured on the wicked. 

Such a belief could not be without its effect on the lives of 
the first converts, and on the state of the Church. "While it 
increased the awfulness of life, it almost unavoidably with 
drew men s thoughts from its ordinary duties. It naturally 
led to the state described in the Corinthian church, in which 
spiritual gifts had taken the place of moral duties, and of 
those very gifts, the less spiritual were preferred to the more 
spiritual. It took the mind away from the kingdom of God 
within, to fix it on signs and wonders, " the things spoken of 
by the prophet Joel," when the sun should be turned into 
darkness, and the moon into blood. It made men almost 
ready to act contrary to the decrees of Caesar, from the sense 
of what they saw, or seemed to see, in the world around them. 
The intensity of the spiritual state in which they lived, so far 
beyond that of our daily life, is itself the explanation of the 
spiritual disorder which seems so strange to us in men who 
were ready to hazard their lives for the truth, and which was 
but the natural reaction against their former state. 

It is obvious that such a belief was inconsistent with an es 
tablished ecclesiastical order. A succession of bishops could 
have had no meaning in a world that was to vanish away. 
Episcopacy, it has been truly remarked, was in natural anta" 1 - 
onism to Montanism ; and in the age of the Apostles as well, 
there is an opposition, traceable in the Epistles themselves, 
between the supernatural gifts and the order anti discipline of 
the Church. Ecclesiastical as well as political institutions are 
not made, but grow. What we are apt to regard as their 
first idea and design is in reality their after development, what 
in the fulness of time they become, not what they originally 
were, the former being faintly, if at all, discernible in the new 
birth of the Church and of the world. 

Nor is it unreasonable to suppose that the meagreness of 
those historical memorials of the first age which survived it, 
has been the result of such a belief. What interest would be 
attached to the events of this world, if they were so soon to 



be lost in another ? or to the lessons of history, when the na 
tions of the earth were in a few years to appear before the 
judgment-seat of Christ ? Even the narrative of the acts 
and sayings of the Saviour of mankind must have had a dif 
ferent degree of importance to those who expected to see with 
their eyes the Word of life, and to us, to whom they are the 
great example, for after ages, of faith and practice. Among 
many causes which may be assigned for the great historical 
chasm which separates the life of Christ and his Apostles 
from after ages, this is not the least probable. The age of 
the Apostles was an age, not of history, but of prophecy. 



ONE of the positive institutions of Christianity is what we 
commonly call the Lord s Supper. And as in this accordance, 
the death of Christ is commemorated under the notion of a 
sacrifice, I shall, before I specify the moral uses of it, en 
deavor briefly to explain and vindicate that representation ; 
which is the more necessary, because nothing in the whole 
Christian doctrine has been more grossly misrepresented, or 
given its adversaries, who take their accounts of it from party 
writers, and not from the New Testament itself, (a method of 
proceeding that argues great unfairness and prejudice,) a 
more plausible occasion to triumph. But if the matter be 
rightly considered, it will appear that the advantages which 
they think they have against the Christian religion upon this 
head are but imaginary. For, 

1. The New Testament nowhere represents God as a 
rigorous, inexorable being, who insisted upon full satisfaction 
for the sins of men, before he could be induced to offer terms 
of reconciliation. It says, indeed, not one word of satisfac 
tion, much less of strict and adequate satisfaction, not a 
syllable of the infinite evil of sin, of infinite justice, the 
hypostatical union, or " the Deity s being so united to the 
man Christ Jesus, as that the two infinitely distinct natures 

* From the Defence of the Christian Revelation, in reply to Tindal. 


constitute one person," and, " by virtue of this union, giving 
an infinite value to the sufferings of the human nature, and 
enabling it to pay a strict equivalent to God s offended vin 
dictive justice." All this, I say, is the invention of more 
modern ages, (which, by subtle distinctions, and metaphysical 
obscurities, have deformed true Christianity to such a degree, 
that scarce any of its original features appear,) and bears not 
the least similitude to the language of the New Testament ; 
in which the Divine Being is always described as slow to 
anger, merciful, and condescending to the frailties and infirmi 
ties of mankind ; and forgiveness of sin represented, not as 
a thing for which a price of equal value was paid, and which 
might consequently be demanded in strict justice, but as a 
voluntary act of pure favor, and the effect of free and un 
deserved goodness. Nay, further, 

2. The New Testament never asserts, that God could not 
have pardoned sin without a sacrifice, nor, consequently, that 
the death of Christ, considered in that view, was, upon any 
account, absolutely necessary. If indeed it be proved that 
this method is of Divine appointment, this will and ought to 
satisfy us, that there are wise reasons for it, but it cannot be 
inferred from hence, that it was absolutely necessary, or that 
the same wise purposes might not have been as effectually 
answered some other way. Nor, 

3. Does the Christian religion anywhere expressly declare, 
or so much as intimate to us, that natural reason could not 
discover God to be a propitious being, and ready to be recon 
ciled to his guilty creatures upon their repentance ; but, on 
the contrary, lays down this as the fundamental point of all 
religion, and consequently as a principle that might be argued 
with great probability, that " God is a rewarder of them who 
diligently seek him," Heb. ii. 6, and supposes, that the great 
goodness, which he has demonstrated in the general constitu 
tion of things, and course of providence, was a rational en 
couragement to the Gentile world to serve and worship him, 
in hopes of acceptance and mercy. 

4. It is of great importance to observe, that the death of 


Christ, as appears, would have happened, if it had never been 
designed as a sacrifice, and consequently was not appointed 
arbitrarily and solely with a view to that. The true state of 
the case seems to be this. The wise and merciful God, hav 
ing compassion on the ignorance and degeneracy of the world, 
determined, at a certain time fixed by his infinite wisdom, to 
interpose, and when they had corrupted the religion of nature, 
and were not likely to recover the right knowledge of it, teach 
them their duty by an external revelation. The person 
whom he chose to be his messenger is characterized as his 
Son, an innocent person, of great dignity and excellence, 
whom he had before employed in the most important trans 
actions, and who was highly beloved and favored by him; 
and the principal reason of his employing one so extraor 
dinary as his minister upon this occasion, we are told in the 
New Testament, was to conciliate greater attention and re 
gard to his doctrine. Matt. xxi. 37 ; Heb. i. 1,2; ii. 2, 3. 
We are to take it, therefore, I think, that the first view of 
God in sending Christ into the world was, that, as a prophet, 
he might restore the true religion, and publish the glad tidings 
of life and immortality, and by this means reform the errors 
and vices of mankind. 

But, as he was sent to preach a most strict and holy doc 
trine, among a people abominably corrupt and vicious, to 
recommend a rational and spiritual worship of the Deity to 
those who were fond of form and ceremony, and resolved the 
whole of the religion into external rites and traditional super 
stitions, and assumed the character of their Messiah, or king, 
when both his circumstances in life, and the religion he 
taught, contradicted the expectations they had entertained of 
temporal pomp and grandeur under the Messiah s govern 
ment, and consequently disappointed all the views of their 
covctousness and ambition, he gained comparatively but few 
converts, and was abused and persecuted by the priests and 
men in power, whom the multitude blindly followed, and at 
last put to death with great torment and ignominy. From 
this pla r and unquestionably true account of the fact, it 


appears that his sufferings were the natural consequence of 
attempting to reform the manners of a degenerate age, and 
opposing the superstition and darling prejudices of the Jewish 
nation ; and could not be avoided, but by such a compliance 
on his part, as would have been inconsistent with virtue and 
integrity, or by a miraculous interposition of Providence. 
And God, who foresaw all this, appointed that the death of 
Christ, which really happened in the natural course of tilings, 
should be considered as a sacrifice. 

Let me observe, by the way, that by considering the matter 
in this light, all objections against the justice of God, in 
determining that an innocent person should suffer for the 
guilty, are entirely obviated. For the death of Christ was 
not appointed absolutely and arbitrarily with this view, but, 
which is vastly different, and cannot sure have the least 
appearance of injustice, it fell out just as other events do, in 
the common course of things ; and all that can be immediately 
attributed to God in the whole affair is, that he sent him into 
the world, though he foresaw the consequences of it ; and 
ordered that his death, which would have happened without a 
miracle, if there had been no such design, should be regarded 
as a sacrifice. Though, I must own, I cannot see, if the 
matter had been otherwise, how it could be unjust, or tyran 
nical, to propose even to an innocent person to suffer, with his 
own free consent, in order to promote so great a good ; espe 
cially if we suppose, what the Christian revelation expressly 
teaches in the present case, that he would be gloriously and 
amply rewarded for it. Having thus removed all the difficul 
ties of any moment that lie against this doctrine, the only 
thin" 1 that remains is to show what wise ends might be served 
by it. 

I shall not inquire into the original of expiatory sacrifices, 
which were as early in the world as the first accounts of his 
tory ; whether they were owing to an express appointment of 
God, as may seem probable from the history of Moses, or had 
their rise from the fears and superstition of mankind, who, 
being uneasy under a sense of guilt, confused in their reason- 


ings about the goodness of the Deity, and uncertain whether 
he would accept them, notwithstanding past offences, upon 
their repentance and reformation only, (though, I make no 
doubt, they might have argued this truth, with a good deal of 
probability, even from the light of nature,) would naturally 
fly to every little expedient, that their bewildered imagina 
tions suggested might be proper; and so began first with 
sacrificing brute creation, and afterwards, as their distrust and 
fears increased, had recourse, in many heathen nations, to the 
abominable practice of human sacrifices. Which shows plain 
ly, that their reason was more and more perplexed, and cor 
rupted, and darkened to a prodigious degree, with respect to 
the very fundamental principles of religion and virtue. 

If sacrificing was entirely a human invention, it would be 
hard to give any account of it, more than of innumerable 
other superstitions, which, in the darkness and extreme de 
pravity of the Pagan world, almost universally prevailed. 
Human sacrifices are a disgrace to our nature, as well as in 
the highest degree dishonorable to God. And for others, 
there is no foundation at all in reason to suppose that they 
could expiate the guilt of moral offences, or be of the least 
efficacy towards reinstating the sinner in the Divine favor. 
On the other hand, if sacrifices were originally of Divine 
appointment, they could not be designed to propitiate the 
Deity, because the very institution of them necessarily sup 
posed that he was already propitious. For what end then 
were they ordained ? Was it because the all-wise and merci 
ful Governor of the world delighted in the blood of innocent 
animals ? Or was he fond of being served with great ex 
pense and ceremony ? These are low and unworthy concep 
tions of him. All the uses therefore that it was possible, in 
reason, for sacrifices to serve, or, consequently, that they 
should be designed to answer, if they were of divine original, 
may I think be reduced to these two ; namely, keeping up a 
firm belief of God s reconcilableness, and being ready to 
forgive his guilty creatures upon their repentance, and, at the 
same time, a strong sense of the evil of sin, and their own 


demerit upon the account of it. In this view of standing 
memorials and testimonies to the most important truths, they 
might be very useful ; but proper expiations they neither 
were, nor could be, whether they began from superstition, or 
immediate revelation. 

And now the death of Christ may be very fitly represented 
as a sacrifice, nay, described in the strongest sacrificial 
phrases, since it answered completely all the rational pur 
poses that expiatory sacrifices could ever serve. It is a 
standing memorial of God s being propitious, and inclined, as 
the Christian revelation assures us, not only to forgive sin in 
part, but entirely, and not only to remit the whole of the 
punishment, which the sinner had deserved, but moreover to 
bestow on him the glorious reward of eternal happiness upon 
his sincere repentance and reformation, and persevering in a 
virtuous course. So that it removes the uncertainty of our 
natural reasonings, and is wisely calculated to maintain in all 
ages a firm belief of that fundamental principle of all re 
ligion, which men s superstitious fears had very much cor 
rupted and darkened, and gives the strongest possible en 
couragement to virtue. 

Again, the death of Christ considered under the notion of 
a sacrifice will be, to the end of the world, a most lively 
memorial of the evil and demerit of sin. Nay, as God, in 
his infinite wisdom, has ordered it in such a manner, that 
nothing less should be considered as the sacrifice for the sins 
of the world than the death of a person so dear to him and 
of such transcendent dignity and excellence, he has by this 
appointment declared much more strongly his displeasure 
against sin, and what the sinner himself deserved to suffer, 
and cut off more effectually from wilful and impenitent 
offenders all ground of presumptuous hope and confidence 
in his mercy, than it was possible to do by any sacrifices of 
brute creatures. So that by the way in which he has con 
descended to pardon us there is the utmost discouragement 
given to vice, and the greatest care taken that could be by any 
method whatever to preserve the honor of the Divine gor 


ernment, and the reverence due to the authority of its laws. 
For, besides what hath been already suggested, a sense of our 
ill deserts upon account of our transgressions, of which the 
death of Christ represented as a sacrifice is a most affecting 
memorial, has a natural tendency to inspire us with the deep 
est humility, and fill us with shame and remorse for having 
deviated from the rule of right, and consequently to make us 
more circumspect and regular in our future behavior ; and a 
sense of God s great goodness in freely forgiving our offences, 
when we had merited quite the contrary, must, if we have 
any sentiments of gratitude or honor, make us solicitous to 
please, and fearful of offending him. 

If it be asked, how the death of Christ can answer the 
purpose of an expiatory sacrifice, when it happened in the 
natural course of things, and was not appointed directly, and 
only with that view, I answer, that, such sacrifices being 
never designed to propitiate the Deity, or as proper expia 
tions, but memorials, in the manner above explained, there is 
no difficulty in accounting for it. For, in all other cases, it 
was God s appointing and accepting the sacrifice only, that 
made it a proper memorial ; otherwise it could have no sig- 
nificancy, but what the fancy and superstition of men sug 
gested. The use of sacrifices, therefore, depending entirely 
on his institution of them, or at least the use of those which 
were directly of his ordaining being that, and that only, which 
he intended, it follows, in the very nature of the thing, that if 
he is pleased to call the death of Christ a sacrifice, and would 
have it considered under that character, it must be a fit 
memorial of all he designed should be represented by it. 
And, besides, it has been shown, that there are several cir 
cumstances which render it a more useful memorial, than 
any other sacrifices that were ever offered. 

Let me add to what has been said concerning the advan 
tages of considering the death of Christ as a sacrifice in 
general, that by its being described as the one offering which 
has " perfected for ever them that are sanctified," Ileb. x. 
14, the Christian religion has guarded, in the most effectual 


manner, against the use of all sacrifices for the future, and 
particularly against human sacrifices, one of the most mon 
strous corruptions of anything which has borne the name of 
religion, that ever appeared in the world. And I would hope, 
that even its adversaries will allow this to be a great argu 
ment in its favor, that it was so wisely suited to the statt; of 
the world at that time, and not only abolished sacrificing, but 
in a way accommodated in some measure to the general con 
ceptions and prejudices of mankind, and consequently the 
more likely to take, guarded against the revival of a custom 
afterwards, (preserving however all the rational uses of it,) 
which Lad been the source of infinite superstition. 

Should it be said, that there is no need of such memorials 
as sacrifices were, and the death of Christ is represented to 
be, because if the Christian religion had asserted clearly that 
God is a propitious being, and particularly expressed the 
terms upon which his guilty creatures might be reconciled to 
him, if it had declared absolutely against the use of all sacri 
fices, and condemned especially the barbarity and inhumanity 
of human sacrifices, this alone would have been sufficient ; 
I answer, that it might indeed have been sufficient ; but how 
does it appear, which is the point on which the argument 
wholly turns, that the appointing a memorial of these things, 
in the sacrifice of Christ, is useless ? Thus much is unde 
niable, that these things do not in the least interfere. But, 
besides, was not the great end in view most likely to be se 
cured by positive declarations, and a standing memorial both, 
that will naturally give light to and strengthen each other ? 
To which we may add, that the superstition of men will in 
some circumstances pervert the plainest words ; but it is not 
so easy to evade the design of a memorial, especially in that 
very way, namely, under the notion of a sacrifice, to which 
their superstition would directly tend. 

There is nothing, that I can find, advanced by the author 
of Christianity as old as the Creation, upon this head, but 
what has been fully obviated, or goes upon the conJmon mis 
takes of the Scripture doctrine of Christ s sacrifice. Only, 


whereas, he says, " that the reasons assigned for it could 
never influence those who never heard of Christ." * 1 allow 
it. T>ut what then ? Is it not enough, that they may be of 
great use to those who have heard of him ? Nay, the doc 
trine of Christ s being a propitiation for the sins of the whole 
world is not therefore useless, because a great part of the 
world know nothing of it, since it is of the highest moral 
advantage to those who enjoy the Christian revelation ; as it 
represents to them the universal goodness of the common 
Father of mankind, and that " in every nation, he that feareth 
God, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him " ; and, 
consequently, encourages universal benevolence, and an es 
teem of the whole rational creation, however distinguished by 
external privileges, and restrains that spiritual pride and 
insolence, which prompt many Christians, to the reproach of 
our holy religion, (and is indeed too common in all religious 
sects, who imagine the superiority to be on their side,) to 
confine the favor of God to themselves, and despise, censure, 
and condemn all others. 

I proceed now to point out a few of the excellences and 
eminent advantages of that positive institution of Christianity, 
in which we commemorate the death of Christ, and particu 
larly under the character of a sacrifice. And the moral uses 
of it are so plain, and withal so various, and exceeding great, 
that it may be questioned, whether anything of a positive 
nature can possibly be appointed, that has a stronger tendency 
to promote the practice of virtue, nay, as will sufficiently 
appear by just enumerating them, of the most amiable, gen 
erous, and heroic virtue. 

In general, as we perform this service in honor of Christ, 
we thereby, as well as by baptism, solemnly profess our belief 
of his religion, and consequently engage to make it the rule 
of our behavior. But to mention some of its peculiar ad 
vantages. Frequently commemorating the death of Christ, 
as a sacrifice for sin, must maintain in us a constant, firm 

* Christianity, &c., p. 418 


belief of that first principle even of natural religion, that God 
is ready to forgive all sincere penitents, and " a rewarder of 
them that diligently seek him " ; and, at the same time, as it 
sets before us our own great demerit, must impress a strong 
and lively sense of the goodness of God, in freely pardoning 
our offences, and rewarding so abundantly our sincere though 
imperfect virtue ; th natural consequence of which will be, 
shame for having done amiss, and affronted the government 
of so gracious and compassionate a Being, and the highest 
abhorrence of such an ungenerous conduct for the future. 
If we reflect, with becoming gratitude, on God s wonderful 
benevolence and mercy to mankind, it is impossible but this 
must produce a cheerful obedience to all his commands, and 
especially a delight in doing good after his most excellent and 
perfect example. Again, when we remember, that the very 
design of the death of Christ was fi to redeem us from all 
iniquity," and make us " zealous of good works," Tit. ii. 14, 
and that upon these terms only we are to expect any ad 
vantage from it, nothing can have a more powerful tendency 
to excite to strict and universal purity. 

Further, if we consider our partaking of this ordinance as 
a communion, " the cup of blessing, which we bless, as the 
communion of the blood of Christ, and the bread, which we 
break, as the communion of the body of Christ," 1 Cor. x. 16, 
by which we acknowledge all sincere Christians, however 
denominated . and distinguished, as our brethren, members 
together with ourselves of the same spiritual body, or society, 
entitled to the same privileges, and having the same " hope 
of their calling " ; that " we, being many, are one bread, and 
one body, because we are all partakers of that one bread," 
ver. 17; this must be of excellent use to promote mutual 
esteem, concord, and harmony ; and, if the true intention of 
it was followed, would make Christians regard one another ac 
cording to their real merit, and not for the trifling peculiarities 
of any particular sect, and effectually reconcile all party 
differences; by which means impositions upon conscience, vio 
lent controversies, unscriptural terms of communion, schisms, 


persecutions, which have been of fatal consequence both to 
religion and civil society, would be entirely prevented. But 
lest we should stop here, and confine our benevolence to the 
household of faith, considering the death of Christ as " a pro 
pitiation for the sins of the whole world," 1 John ii. 2, will 
naturally inspire a universal love of mankind. For there is 
an irresistible force in the Apostle s argument, " If God so 
loved us, we," who are dependent upon and obliged to each 
other, and cannot subsist without a mutual intercourse of good 
offices, ought much more to love one another." Chap. iv. 11. 
Indeed, commemorating the death of Christ in a devout 
and solemn manner, in its entire design, and with all its cir 
cumstances, will suggest the greatest and most generous sen 
timents, and afford motives to the most extensive and heroic 
benevolence that mankind can possibly practise. For, besides 
what has been already hinted, if we consider that God gave 
his Son to die for us while we were enemies, Rom. v. 10, 
this must kill all the seeds of malice and revenge in us, and 
raise such a noble spirit of humanity and compassion as the 
greatest injuries shall not bear down and extinguish; which 
will be further strengthened by reflecting on the behavior of 
Christ, who under the greatest abuses and indignities pitied 
and prayed for his persecutors. His example, likewise, in 
choosing to die rather than forfeit his integrity, and to pro 
mote the happiness of mankind, will teach us, and accordingly 
it is thus inculcated by St. John, 1 John iii. 1 G, to sacrifice all 
private considerations, nay, life itself, for the public good ; 
and, besides, has a tendency to beget in us an entire submis 
sion to Providence under the worst circumstances that may 
befall us, and an undaunted fortitude, resolution, and con 
stancy of mind, when we are called to suffer in a good cause, 
and for the advancement of truth and virtue. And all these 
arguments will receive an additional force, when we reflect 
that the example we commemorate is that of a friend and 
generous benefactor, an example that is in itself amiable, and 
which we should consequently be ambitious to imitate ; and 
from the innocence and dignity of the sufferer. 



As therefore it appears that we cannot commemorate (he 
death of Christ in the manner in which Christianity has com 
manded it, without having our resolutions to practise univer 
sal virtue strengthened, and improving in the greatest, most 
amiable, useful, and godlike dispositions, which this institution 
has a peculiar and most admirable aptitude to excite and con 
firm ; need I add anything more to prove that it is worthy 
of God, a being of absolute purity, a being of most perfect 
and universal goodness ? Or that it is becoming the wisdom 
of his providence, and suitable to the great end he has in 
view, the rectitude and happiness of the moral creation, to 
oblige us by a law made on purpose, and the practice of a 
plain, significant rite, to enter frequently upon such reflec 
tions as are of the utmost moral use, and yet, without some 
institution of this kind, (considering how little inclined the 
bulk of mankind are to think, unless they are put upon it,) 
are likely to be omitted, or very much neglected ; and, be 
sides, cannot reasonably be expected to have that weight 
and influence in a slight, cursory, occasional meditation, as 
they will very probably, when they are considered as a 
solemn act of devotion, which we perform in obedience to 
an express Divine command ? 




" Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord ? " 1 Cor. ix. 1. 

THE two Epistles to the Corinthians, as has been already 
observed, are eminently historical ; and in the course of the 
remarks made upon them it has been my object to draw out 
as clearly as possible every illustration or testimony which 
they afford to the history of the early Church. But there is 
another kindred question, which is so important in itself, that, 
though partially touched upon in the several passages which 
bear upon it, it may yet not be out of place at the close of 
these Epistles to consider it as a whole. 

The question which the Apostle asked of his Judaizing op 
ponents, and which his Judaizing opponents asked of him, 
" Have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord ? " is one which in 
our days has been often asked in a wider sense than that hi 
which the words were used by the Apostle or his adversaries. 
" Is the representation of Christ in the Epistles the same as 
the representation of Christ in the Gospels ? What is the 
evidence, direct or indirect, furnished by St. Paul to the facts 
of the Gospel history ? If the Gospels had perished, could 
we from the Epistles form an image of Christ, like to that 
which the Gospels present ? Can we discover between the 
Epistles and the Gospels any such coincidences and resem- 

* From his Commentary on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians. 


blance as Paley discovered between the Epistles and the 
Acts ? Is the * Gospel of the Evangelical Apostle different 
from the Gospel of the Evangelistic narratives ? " 

Such an inquiry has been started sometimes in doubt, some 
times in perplexity. It is suggested partly by the nature of 
the case, by that attitude of separation and independent action 
which St. Paul took apart from the other Apostles, and which, 
even irrespectively of his writings, awakened in the minds of 
his opponents the suspicion that " he had not seen the Lord 
Jesus," that he was not truly an " Apostle of Christ," and 
that therefore " he taught things contrary to Christ s teach 
ing." It is suggested also by the attempts which in later 
times have been made, both by those without and by those 
within the outward pale of Christianity, to widen the breach 
between the teaching of the Epistles and the Gospels ; both 
by those who have been anxious to show that the Christian 
faith ought to be sought in " not Paul, but Jesus " ; and by 
those who believe and profess that " the Gospel " is contained, 
not in the Evangelical History, but in the Pauline Epistles. 

From many points of view, and to many minds, questions 
like these will seem superfluous or unimportant. But, touch 
ing as they do on various instructive subjects, and awakening 
in some quarters a peculiar interest, they may well demand a 
consideration here. The two Epistles to Corinth are those 
from which an answer may most readily be obtained, both 
because they contain all, or almost all, of the most important 
allusions to the subject of the Gospel history, and also be 
cause they belong to the earliest, as well as the most undis 
puted, portion of the Apostolical writings. At the same time, 
it will not interfere with the precision or unity of the inquiry, 
if it includes such illustrations as may be furnished by the 
other Epistles also. 

I. The first class of coincidences to which we most naturally 
turn, are those which relate to isolated sayings of Christ. 
This (partly for reasons which will be stated hereafter) is the 
least satisfactory part of the inquiry. It cannot be denied 
that they are few and scanty, and that, in these few, then* 


is in no case an exact correspondence with the existing 

There are in St. Paul s Epistles only two occasions on 
which our Lord s authority is directly quoted. In 1 Cor. vii. 
10, when speaking of marriage, the Apostle refers to a com 
mand of the Lord, as distinct from a command of his own, 
and as the command he gives the words, " Let not the wife 
depart from her husband." In 1 Cor. ix. 14, when speaking 
of the right of the Apostles to receive a maintenance from 
those whom they taught, he says, " Even so the Lord or 
dained (8urafi ) that they which preach the Gospel should 
live of the Gospel." In neither case are the exact words of 
the existing records quoted ; but we can hardly doubt that he 
refers in one case to the prohibition, " Whosoever shall put 
away his wife .... causeth her to commit adultery " (Matt. v. 
32 ; Mark x. 11 ; Luke xvi. 18) ; in the other, to the com 
mand to the Twelve and the Seventy, " Carry neither purse 
nor scrip nor shoes, . . . .for the laborer is worthy of his hire " 
(Luke x. 4, 7 ; Matt. x. 9, 10). 

To these quotations we may add, that in the Acts of the 
Apostles (xx. 35), in his speech to the Ephesian elders, 
" Remember the words of the Lord Jesus>, how he said. It is 
more blessed to give than to receive." It is also to be observed, 
that, in closing the discussion on the conduct of Christian as 
semblies (1 Cor. xiv. 37), he says, " If any man think himself 
to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the 
things that I write unto you are commandments of the Lord" 
(icvpiov ei/roAai). The form of expression seems to imply that 
here, as in vii. 10, he is referring to some distinct regulation 
of Christ, which he was endeavoring to follow out. But if 
so, this, like the saying just quoted in Acts xx. 35, is now 
nowhere to be found. 

Four other passages may be mentioned, which, not from 
any distinct reference on the part of the Apostle, but from 
their likeness of expression, may seem to have been derived 
from the circle of our Lord s teaching, (a.) " Being reviled, we 
Uess" (\otiopovfjiwoi. fvXoyoipw, 1 Cor. iv, 12), may have 


relation to Luke vi. 28, " Bless them that curse you * (fv\o- 
ydrf TOVS Karapco/zeVouy). (/3.) " Know ye not that the saints 
shall judge the world?" (1 Cor. vi. 2) may refer to Luke 
xxii. 30 (Matt. xix. 28), " Ye shall sit on thrones, judging 
the twelve tribes of Israel." (y.) In the command that the 
woman is to - attend on the Lord without distraction " (cvnd- 
pedpov .... dnfpio-Trda-Tas, 1 Cor. vii. 35), the two emphatic 
words are substantially the same as are employed in the nar 
rative containing the commendation of Mary. " Mary sitting " 

(jrapaKadicrcura), "Martha cumbered" (Trepieo-Traro, Luke X. 39, 

40). (8.) In 1 Cor. xiii. 2, "Faith, so that I could remove 
mountains" may be an allusion to Matt. xvii. 20 : " If ye 
have faith, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence" 
These instances, however, are all too doubtful to serve as the 
foundation of an argument. 

"With respect to all, however, three remarks may be made, 
more or less important : First, their want of exact agreement 
with the words of the Gospel narrative implies (what indeed 
can hardly be doubted for other reasons), that, at the time 
when the Epistles to Corinth were written, the Gospels in 
their present form were not yet in existence. Secondly, this 
same discrepancy of form, combined with an unquestionable 
likeness in spirit, agrees with the discrepancies of a similar 
kind which are actually found between the Gospel narratives ; 
and, when contrasted with the total dissimilarity of such iso 
lated sayings as are ascribed to Christ by Irenaeus, show that 
the atmosphere, so to speak, of the Gospel history extended 
beyond the limits of its actually existing records, and that 
within that atmosphere the Apostle was included. The Apos 
tle, to whom we owe the preservation of the saying, " It is 
more blessed to give than to receive," has thereby become to 
us truly an " Evangelist." Thirdly, the manner in which the 
Apostle refers to these sayings proves the undisputed claim 
which they had already established, not only in his own mind, 
but in that of the whole Church. He himself still argues 
and entreats " as the Scribes " ; but he quotes the sentence of 
Christ, as that from which there was to be no appeal, w as of 


one having authority." " Not I, but the Lord " (1 Cor. vii. 
10), is the broad distinction drawn between his own sugges 
tions respecting marriage, and the principle which the Lord 
had laid down, and which accordingly is incorporated in three 
out of the four Gospels, and once in the discourse especially 
designed to furnish the universal code of Christian morality.* 
So, too, the command that the teachers of the Gospel were 
"to live of the Gospel" (1 Cor. ix. 14), had received such 
entire and absolute acceptance, that it was turned by the Ju- 
daizing party into a universal and inflexible rule, admitting 
of no deviation, even for the sake of Christian love. Already 
the Lord s words had become the law of the Christian so 
ciety ; already they had been subjected to that process by 
which, as in later times so in this particular instance, the less 
enlightened disciples have severed the sacred text from the 
purpose to which it was originally applied, and sacrificed the 
spirit of the passage to a devout but mistaken observance of 
the letter. 

II. From the particular sayings, we turn to the particular 
acts of the life of Christ. These, as might be supposed, 
appear more frequently, though still not so generally as at 
first sight we should naturally expect. 

To the earlier events it may be said that the allusions are 
next to none. " Born (yei/o/zeVou) of the seed of David after 
the flesh" (Rom. i. 3), " born of a woman" (yevoufvov CK 
ywaiKos), "born under the law" (yevoptvov vrrb i/o/zoi/), Gal. iv. 
4, are the only distinct references to the Nativity and its ac 
companiments. So far as they go, they illustrate the stress 
laid by the Evangelists on the lineage of David (Luke ii. 4, 
23, Matt. i. 1), on the announcement and manner of his 
birth (Luke ii. 4, Malt, i. 23), and on the ritual observances 
which immediately followed (Luke ii. 21 - 24). But this is 
all ; and perhaps the coincidence of silenco between the 
Apostle and the h\ o Evangelists, who equally with himself 
omit these earlier events, is more remarkable than his slight 

# Matt. v. 32 ; Mark x. 11 ; Luke xvi. 18, 


confirmation of the two who record them. The likeness to 
St. Mark and St. John in this respect may, if we so consider 
it, be regarded as instructive as the unlikeness to St. Luke 
and St. Matthew. 

Neither is there any detailed allusion to the ministry or 
miracles of Christ. To the miracles, indeed, there is none, 
unless it be granted that in the expression, " Ye cannot par 
take of the Lord s table, and the table of devils " (Sai/uovi a>v) 
f 1 Cor. x. 21), the peculiar stress laid on that word, not else 
where used by the Apostle, is deepened by the recollection 
that He whose table they thus profaned had so 1 long and 
often cast out the very demons with which they now brought 
themselves into contact. To the general manner, however, of 
our Lord s mode of life, there is one strong testimony which 
agrees perfectly both with the fact and the spirit of the Gos 
pel narrative. 2 Cor. viii. 9, " For jour sakes He became 
poor " (eTTTco^fuo-f). To this we must add the corresponding, 
though somewhat more general, expression in Phil. ii. 7. 
" He took upon Him the form of a slave " (pop^v 8ov\ov). 
It is possible, perhaps probable from the context, that in both 
these passages the Apostle may have meant generally the 
abnegation of more than earthly wealth and power, the as 
sumption of more than earthly poverty and humiliation. But 
the context shows, also, that poverty in the one case, and 
lowliness of life in the other, each in its usual sense, were the 
special thoughts in the Apostle s mind ; and in the case of 
" poverty," the word (cVTw^euo-e) can signify nothing less than 
that He led a life, not only of need an J want, but of houseless 
wandering and distress. It points exactly to that state, im 
plied rather than expressly described in the Gospels, in which 
" He had not where to lay His head " ; and in which He per 
severed " when He was rich " ; that is, when He might have 
taken the " kingdom of Judoea," " the kingdoms of the world," 
and " twelve legions of angels " to defend Him. 

But it is in the closing scenes of our Lord s life that the 
Apostle s allusions centre. In this respect, his practice is 
confirmed by the outward form of the four Gcspels, which 


unite in this portion of the history, and in this portion only. 
This concentration, however caused, is the same both in the 
Evangelists and in the Apostle. His " Gospel," it would 
seem, in his narrative of the events of the Evangelical his 
tory, began with the sufferings of Christ. " First of all, I 
delivered to you how that Christ died for our sins" (1 Cor. 
xv. 8). And the main subject of his preaching in Corinth 
and in Galatia was the crucifixion of Christ, not merely the 
fact of his death, but the horror and shame of the manner 
of his death. " The cross of Christ" (1 Cor. i. 17, 18); 
" Christ crucified " (ib. ii. 23) ; even vividly, and, if one may 
so say, graphically portrayed before their eyes ; " Jesus 
Christ was evidently set forth ( as in a picture/ irpoeypdtyr)) 
crucified amongst them" (Gal. iii. 1). 

The distinct allusions to His sufferings are few, but precise ; 
for the most part entirely agreeing with the Gospel narra 
tives, and implying much more than is actually expressed. 
There are two not contained in these Epistles, but certainly 
within the limits of the teaching of the Apostle. One is the 
allusion to the agony in the garden, in Heb. v. 7 : " In the 
days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and sup 
plications and strong crying and tears unto Him that was able 
to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared." 
That the account is drawn from a source independent of the 
four Gospels is clear from the mention of tears, which on that 
occasion nowhere occurs in the Gospel narratives. But the 
general tendency is precisely similar. The other is the allu 
sion in 1 Tim. vi. 13, to " the good confession " which Christ 
Jesus " witnessed before Pontius Pilate" This is the more 
remarkable, because, although it may be sufficiently explained 
by the answer, "Thou sayest," in Matt, xxvii. 11, yet it 
points much more naturally to the long and solemn interview 
peculiar to the narrative of St. John. (John xviii. 28 - xix. 
12.) But the most definite and exact agreement of the Apos 
tle s writings with the Gospel narratives is that which, in 
1 Cor. xi. 23-26, contains the earliest written account of the 
institution of the Lord s Supper. It is needless to po nt out 


in detail what has already been shown in the notes on that 
passage. But it is important to observe how very much it 
implies as to the Apostle s knowledge of the whole story. 
Not only are the particulars of this transaction told in almost 
the same words, the evening meal, the night of the be 
trayal, the Paschal loaf, the Paschal cup, the solemn insti 
tution, but the form of words is such as was evidently 
part of a fixed and regular narrative ; the whole history of 
the Passion must have been known to St. Paul, and by him 
been told in detail to the Corinthians ; and, if so, we may 
fairly conclude that many other incidents of the sacred story 
must have been related to them, no less than this which, but 
for the peculiar confusions of the Corinthian Church, would 
have remained unrecorded. 

The Resurrection, like the Death, of Christ, is the subject 
of allusions too numerous to be recounted. But here, as in 
the case of the Death, we have one passage which shows us 
that not merely the bare fact was stated, but also its accom 
panying circumstances. This is the almost necessary infer 
ence from the enumeration of the various appearances of 
Christ after his Resurrection, as recorded in 1 Cor. xv. 4-7. 
Here, as in the four Gospel narratives, a distinct prominence 
is given to the Burial of Christ, here, as there, in connection 
with the Resurrection rather than the Death ; here, as there, 
the appearances are described as occasional only, not constant 
or frequent ; one of those to which the Apostle refers (that to 
Peter) is alluded to in the Gospels (Luke xxiv. 34) ; the 
appearance to the Twelve is described in Matt, xxviii. 1C (?) ; 
Mark xvi. 14; Luke xxiv. 36 ; John xx. 19. On the other 
hand, the mention of the appearance to James, and to the five 
hundred brethren, shows that, although in substance the same 
narrative, it is different in form ; the source is independent ; 
there are still the same lesser discrepancies between the 
Apostle and the Evangelists, as between the several Evan 
gelists themselves. 

It may be observed, in concluding these detailed references 
to the Gospel history, that they almost all, so fur as tbey 


refer to one Gospel narrative rather than another, agree with 
that of St. Luke. The exceptions are the doubtful allusions 
to the interview recorded by St. John, in 1 Tim. vi. 13 ; the 
saying recorded by St. Matthew, in 1 Cor. xiii. 4 ; and the 
agreement with St. John and St. Mark, rather than with St. 
Luke, in omission of distinct references to our Lord s early 
histoiy. All the rest, even to words and phrases, have a re 
lation to St. Luke s Gospel, so intimate as to require some 
explanation ; and there is no reason why we should not adopt 
the account anciently received, that the author or compiler of 
that Gospel was the companion of the Apostle. 

These are the main facts which are recorded from the Gos 
pel History. Perhaps they will not seem many ; yet, so far 
as they go, they are not to be despised. From them a story 
might be constructed, even if we knew no more, which would 
not be at variance which, in all essential points, would be 
in unison with the Gospel narrative. 

III. But the impression of this unison will be much con 
firmed, if from particular sayings or facts we pass to the 
general character of Christ, as described in these Epistles. 

(1.) It may be convenient, in the first instance, to recall 
those passages which speak of our Lord in the most general 
manner, 1 Cor. i. 30, which tells us that " lie was made unto 
us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemp 
tion " ; 1 Cor. viii. 6, which speaks of " the one Lord Jesus 
Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him " ; 1 Cor. xv. 
45, in which He is called " the second Adam " ; 2 Cor. v. 1 6, 
19, in which He is spoken of as the Judge of all men, and 
that in Him was God, reconciling the world unto himself by 
Him. Other passages to the same effect might be multiplied, 
but these will suffice. 

We are so familiar with the sound of these words, and so 
much accustomed to apply them to other purposes, that we 
rarely think of the vastness and complexity, and at the same 
time freshness and newness, of the ideas implied in their first 
application to an actual, individual Man. Let us imagine our 
selves hearing them for the first time, perceiving Hat 


were uttered by one who had the deepest and most sober 
conviction of their truth, perceiving, also, that they were 
spoken, not of some remote or ideal character, but of One who 
had lived and died during the youth or early manhood of him 
who so spoke. Should we not ask, like the Psalmists and 
Prophets of old, " Who is this King of glory ? Who is this 
that cometh, travelling in the greatness of his strength?" 
With what eagerness should we look for any direct account 
of the life and death, to which such passages referred, to see 
whether or not the one corresponded with the other ? 

Let us (for the sake of illustration) conceive ourselves, in 
the first instance, turning to the Apocryphal Gospels, the 
Gospels of the Infancy, of James, of Thomas, and of Nicode- 
nius, from which (it is no imaginary case) was derived the 
only picture of our Lord s life known to the Arabian and Sy 
rian tribes of the seventh century, in the time of Mahomet ; 
and we should at once feel that with the utterly trivial and 
childish fables of those narratives the Apostle s representation 
had no connection whatever. The Koran, wishing to speak 
with high respect of " Jesus, the Son of Mary," contains a 
chapter devoted to the subject. The following is the speech 
which He is represented as uttering, to commend himself to 
the Jews : " I come to you, accompanied by signs from the 
Lord. I shall make of clay the figure of a bird ; I shall 
breathe upon it, and, by God s permission, the bird shall fly. 
I shall heal him that was born blind, and the leper ; I shall, 
by God s permission, raise the dead. I will tell you what 
you have eaten, and what you have hid in your houses. All 
these facts shall be as signs to you, if you will believe. I 
come to confirm the Pentateuch, which you have received 
before me. I will permit to you the use of certain things 
which have been forbidden you. I come with signs from 
your Lord. Fear Him and obey me, He is my Lord and 
yours. Adore Him ; this is the right path." * It may be 
that the Arabs to whom this picture of Christ was presented 

* Koran iil 43, 44- 


could not have risen at the time to anything higher. But we 
cannot wonder that such a picture should have produced no 
deep impression upon them, or have seemed inferior to the 
prophet who had himself risen up amongst them. And from 
seeing what might have been the image of Christ presented to 
us, we may form a livelier notion of that which has been 
presented to us. 

From these Apocryphal Gospels let us suppose ourselves 
turning for the first time to those of the New Testament. No 
one, even though doubting the inferences which the Apostle 
draws, could doubt that the Christ there exhibited must have 
been He of whom he spoke. Even if the name were differ 
ent, we should feel sure that the person must be the same. 
Here alone in that age, or any age, we should find a life and 
character which was truly the second beginning of humanity ; 
here, if anywhere, we should recognize God speaking to man. 
In that life, if in any life, in those words and deeds, if in any 
words and deeds whatever, we should see the impersonation 
of wisdom, and righteousness, and holiness, and redemption. 
As the readers of the Prophets instinctively acknowledged 
that to Him bare all the Prophets witness, so, if we had up to 
this time been readers of the Epistles only, and now first be 
come acquainted with the Gospel narratives, we should even 
thus far be constrained to say, " We have found Him of 
vhom Paul in his Epistles wrote/ Jesus of Nazareth, the 
son of Joseph." * 

The Apostle s words, then, thus considered, may be re 
garded, on the one hand, as a striking testimony to the general 
truth of the Gospel narrative ; on the other hand, as a strik 
ing prediction of what has since taken place. On the one 
hand, they presuppose that a character of extraordinary great 
ness had appeared in the world ; and such a character, 
whatever else may be thought of it, we actually find in the 
Gospels. We feel that each justifies the other. The image 
of Christ in the Gospels will be by all confessed to approach 

* John i. 45. 


more nearly to the description of the Second Adam, the 
Founder of humanity, than any other appearance in human 
history ; and if we ask what effect that life and death pro 
duced at the time of its appearance, we are met by these ex 
pressions of the Apostle, uttered, not as if by any effort, but 
as the spontaneous burst of his own heart, within one genera 
tion from the date of the events themselves. And as these 
expressions correspond with the past events to which they 
refer, so also do they correspond with the future to which 
they point. If the expression of " the Second Adam " was 
meant to characterize a great change in the history of the 
human race, we should expect to find such a change dating 
and emanating from the time when the Second Adam had 
appeared. Such a change we do in fact find, of which the 
beginning is crowned with the life of Christ. It is true that 
the great division of modern from ancient history does not 
commence till four centuries later ; and it is undeniable that 
the influx of the Teutonic tribes at that time had a most im 
portant influence in moulding the future destinies of the 
civilized world. But still the new life which survived the 
overthrow of the Empire had begun from the Christian era, 
Christianity, with all that it has involved in the religion, the 
arts, the literature, the morals of Europe, beyond all dispute 
originated with Christ alone. The very dates which are now 
in use throughout the world are significant, though trivial, 
proofs of the justice of the Apostle s declaration, that Christ 
was the Second Man ; that " as in Adam all had died, even 
so in Christ all were made alive." 

(2.) Thus much would be true, even if nothing more pre 
cise were recorded. But every shade of this general charac 
ter is, if one may so say, deepened by the Apostle s more 
special allusions ; and although perhaps, without the help of 
the Gospel narratives, we might miss the point of his ex 
pressions, yet with that help -the image of Christ comes out 
clearly, and we still see it to be no invention of the Apos 
tle s imagination, but the same historical definite character 
which is set before us in the Gospels. 


(a.) " Christ Jesus was made unto us wisdom." (1 Cor. i. 
30.) " In Him were hid all the treasures of wisdom and 
knowledge" (Col. ii. 3.) " The spirit of wisdom is given to 
us in the knowledge of Him." (Eph. i. 17.) These expres 
sions may be merely general phrases of reverence, but how 
much clearness do they gain when they are compared with 
the actual display of wisdom stored up in the living instruc 
tions of Christ ! There is no special reference by the Apos 
tle to any of the parables or discourses of the Gospels. But 
how completely do tllose " things new and old," " brought out 
of his treasure " (Matt. xiii. 52), answer to this general de 
scription of His character. " Wisdom " is not the attribute 
which a zealous convert would necessarily think of applying 
to the founder of his religion. It is so applied by the Apos 
tle, and we see from the Gospels that his application of it 
cannot be questioned. 

(b.) He frequently speaks of " the truth of Christ," and he 
dwells especially on the certainty and fixedness which charac 
terized all His life. " In Him was not yea and nay" but 
" yea and Amen" (2 Cor. i. 20.) It is at least a striking 
illustration of these passages to remember what Christ again 
and again says of himself in St. John s Gospel, as having 
come into the world for the purpose of bearing witness to the 
truth, as being the Truth ; * it is more than a mere conjec 
ture to read in the Apostle s words the echo of the solemn 
asseveration and ratification of truth which runs through all 
the Gospel discourses, " Verily, verily, Amen, Amen, I say 
unto you." 

(c.) The Apostle urges on his converts the freedom of the 
doctrine which he preached, its contrast to the narrowness and 
mystery and concealment of the Jewish law, and he tells 
them that they must attain this freedom through " the Spirit 
of the Lord" that is, of Christ, and through contemplation of 
his likeness. We turn to the Gospels, and we find in their 
representation of Christ this very freedom of which the Apos- 

* John viii. 32 ; xiv. 6 ; xviii. 37. 


lie speaks exemplified in almost every page ; the sacrifice of 
the letter to the spirit, the encouragement of openness and 
sincerity, there emphatically urged by precept and example, 
at once give an edge and a value to the Apostle s argument, 
which else it would greatly want. 

(d.) The Apostle expressly appeals to the history of Christ 
as an example of surrendering his own will for the sake of 
the scruples of others. " We that are strong ought to bear 
the infirmities of the weak" and not to please ourselves, for 
even Christ pleased not himself, but, as it is written, " the re 
proaches of them that reproached thee fell on me." (Rom. xv. 

1. 3.) " Give none offence .... even as I please all men 

Be followers of me, even as I am of Christ" (1 Cor. x. 32, 
33 ; xi. 1.) Of this consideration for human weakness and 
narrowness, the direct instances in the Gospel narrative are, 
perhaps, less striking than the general indication of this pecu 
liar aspect of the true Christ-like character. Yet his con 
stant, though not universal, acquiescence in the forms of the 
Mosaic law ; the limits within which he restrained his own 
teaching, and that of his disciples ; the many things which 
he withheld, because his disciples were not then able to bear 
them ; the condescension to human weakness which runs 
through the whole texture of the Gospel history, fully jus 
tify the Apostle s appeal, not the less from the very indirect 
ness of the application. 

(e.) He beseeches his converts not to compel him to say or 
do anything which shall be inconsistent with " the meekness 
and gentleness (irpavTrjs KOI eVieueia) of Christ." (2 Cor. x. 1.) 
These words are not the mere expressions of ideal adoration ; 
they recall definite traits of a living human person. They 
describe traits which could not be said to be specially exem 
plified in the Apostle himself, but which were exemplified to 
the full in the life and teaching of Him to whom the Apostle 
ascribes them. 

(f.) In many passages the Apostle speaks of Love. In 
1 Cor. xiii. 1-13, he describes it at length. It is a new virtue. 
Its name first occurs in his Epistles. Yet he speaks of it as 


fixed, established, recognized. To what was this owing ? To 
. whom does he ascribe it ? Emphatically, and repeatedly, he 
attributes it to Christ. " The love of Christ." " The love of 
God in Christ." Now in all the Gospels, the self-devoted, 
self-sacrificing energy for the good of others which the word 
"Love" (dyaTTTj) denotes, is the prevailing characteristic of 
the actions of Christ ; in the first three, the word itself is not 
used ; but in the fourth, it is used even more emphatically and 
repeatedly than by St. Paul ; and thus, besides its general 
testimony to the truth of all the Gospel narratives, it specially 
serves to knit together in one the thoughts and words of St. 
Paul and St. John. 

(g.) On one occasion only the Apostle gives us an instance, 
not of what he had " received " of Christ as on earth, but of 
what had been revealed to him concerning Christ by himself. 
In answer to his entreaty thrice offered up to Christ as to his 
still present, ever-living friend, there had been borne in upon 
his soul, how we know not, a distinct message, expressed as at 
his conversion in articulate words, " My grace is sufficient for 
thee, my strength is perfected in weakness." In the similar 
mode of revelation at the time of his conversion, " Why per- 
secutest thou me ? " " I am Jesus whom thou persecutes!," 
the spirit of the whole expression is the same as that which in 
the Gospels represent Christ as merged in the person of the 
least of his disciples. So these words of Christ, reported by 
the Apostle himself in his Epistle, are an exact reflex of the 
union of divine strength with human weakness which per 
vades the narrative of all the Gospels. There is the same 
combination of majesty and tenderness, the same tones of 
mingled rebuke and love, that we know so well in the last 
conversations * by the Sea of Galilee, the same strength and 
virtue going forth to heal the troubled spirit, as of old to 
restore the sick, and comfort the aftiicted.f 

TVe have now gone through the enumeration of all the most 
* John xxi. t Luke vi. 19 ; viii. 46. 


important allusions to the facts of the Gospel history which 
St. Paul s epistles contain, an enumeration tedious per 
haps in itself, and without profit to many. Yet, before we 
proceed, I would ask those who have followed me thus far to 
pause for a moment, and reflect on the additional strength or 
liveliness which this enumeration may have given to their 
conceptions of the Gospel history. It is not much, but, con 
sidering from whom these instances have been taken, from 
a source so near the time, from writings whose genuineness 
has never been questioned by the severest criticism, it is 
something if it may suggest to any one a steadier standing- 
place and a firmer footing, of however narrow limits, amidst 
the doubts or speculations which surround him. Nor, I trust, 
can it have been wholly unprofitable to have approached from 
another than the usual point of view the several features of 
our Lord s life and character which I have just enumerated, 
to dwell on the Apostolic testimony rendered, one by one, 
to the several acts and words, still more to the several traits, 
most of all to the collective effect of the character, which we 
usually gather only from the Gospels. His severe purity of 
word and deed, His tender care for even the temporal 
wants of his disciples, the institution of that solemn part 
ing pledge of communion with Himself and with each other, 

the hope of a better life which He has opened to us, 

amidst the sorrows and desolations of the world, His stead 
fastness and calmness amidst our levity and littleness, His 
free and wide sympathy amidst our prejudice and narrow 
ness, His self-denying poverty, His gentleness and mild 
ness amidst our readiness to offer and resent injuries, His 
love to mankind, His incommunicable greatness and (so 
to speak) elevation above the influence of time and fate, 
all this, at least in general outline, we should have, even if 
nothing else were left to us of the New Testament but the 
passages which have just been- quoted. 

It may still, however, be said, that these indications of the 
Apostle s knowledge of the Gospel history are less than we 
might fairly expect ; and we may still be inclined to ask why, 


when there are so many resemblances, there are not more ? 
why, if he knew so much as these resemblances imply, he yet 
says so little ? 

It is perhaps impossible to answer this fully, or, at any rate, 
to answer as it deserves within the limits here prescribed. 
But some suggestions may be made, which, even if they do 
not entirely meet the case, may yet be sufficiently important 
to deserve consideration. 

First, it must be remarked that the representation of the 
life, and work, and character of Christ, in all probability, be 
longed to the oral, and not the written, teaching of the Apos 
tle. The Gospels themselves have every appearance of 
having grown up out of oral communications of this kind ; 
and the word " Gospel," which must have been employed by 
the Apostle substantially for the same kind of instruction as 
that to which it is applied in the titles of the histories of our 
Lord s life, is by him usually, if not always, used in reference, 
not to what he is actually communicating in his Epistles, but 
to what he had already communicated to his converts when 
present. This supposition is confirmed by the fact, that the 
most express quotation of a distinct saying of Christ occurs, 
not in a letter of the Apostle, but in the eminently character 
istic speech to the Ephesian elders (Acts xx. 18 - 35), and 
that, in the two passages in the Epistles to the Corinthians 
where he most clearly refers to what he had " delivered " to 
them whilst he was with them (1 Cor. xi. 23 - 26 ; xv. 3 - 7), 
it is clear that his instructions turned not merely on the gen 
eral truths of the Christian faith, but on the detailed accounts 
of the Last Supper, and of the Resurrection. Had other 
subjects equally appropriate in the Gospel history been re 
quired for his special purpose, there seems to be no re*on 
why he should not equally have referred to these also, as 
communicated by him during his stay at Corinth. His oral 
teaching that is to say, his first communication with his 
converts would naturally touch on those subjects in which 
all believers took a-- common interest. The instances of that 
teaching, in other words, the everlasting principles of the 
Gospel, are contained, not in tradition, nor yet (except through 


these general allusions) in his own writing?, but in the four 
Gospels. His subsequent teaching in the Epistles would 
naturally relate more to his peculiar mission, would turn 
more on special occasions, would embody more of his own 
personal and individual mind. " I, not the Lord." * And in 
ancient times, even more than in our own, in sacred authors 
no less than classical, we must take into account the effect of 
the entire absorption of the writer in his immediate subject, 
to the exclusion of persons and events of the utmost impor 
tance immediately beyond. Who would infer from the history 
of Thucydides the existence of his contemporary Socrates ? 
How different, again, is the Socrates of Xenophon from the 
Socrates of Plato ! Except so far as the great truth of the 
admission of the Gentiles was, in a certain sense, what he 
occasionally calls it, "his own" peculiar "Gospel," he had 
already " preached the Gospel " to his converts before he 
began his Epistles to them. In the Epistles he was not em 
ployed in " laying the foundation " (that was laid once for all 
in "Jesus Christ," 1 Cor. iii. 10), but in "building up," 
strengthening," " exhorting," " settling." 

But, over and above this almost inevitable distinction, he 
was in his Epistles in his individual dealings with his con 
verts swayed by a principle which, though implied through- 
out his writings, is nowhere so strongly expressed as in these 
two. When called to reply to his Jewish opponents, who 
prided themselves on their outward connection with Christ, as 
Hebrews, as Israelites, as Ministers of Christ, as Apostles of 
Christ, as specially belonging to Christ (2 Cor. v. 12, x. 7, 
xi. 22, 13), when taunted by them with the very charge 
which, in a somewhat altered form, we are now considering, 
that he had "not seen Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor. ix. 1), 
his reply is to a certain extent a concession of the fact, or 
rather an assertion of the principle by which he desired to 
confront any such accusations. With the strongest sense of 
freedom from all personal and local ties, with the deepest con 
sciousness that from the moment of his conversion all his past 

* 1 Cor. vii. 12. 


life had vanished far away into the distance, he answers, 
" Though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet hence 
forth know we him no more." (2 Cor. v. 10.) Startling as 
this declaration is, and called forth by a special occasion, it 
yet involved a general truth. It is, in fact, the same pro 
found instinct or feeling which penetrated, more or less, the 
whole Apostolical, and even the succeeding age, with regard 
to our Lord s earthly course. It is the same feeling which 
appears in the fact, strange if it were not well known, that no 
authentic or even pretended likeness of Christ should have 
been handed down from the first century ; that the very site 
of his dwelling-place at Capernaum should have been entire 
ly obliterated from human memory ; that the very notion of 
seeking for relics of his life and death, though afterwards so 
abundant, first began in the age of Constantine. It is the 
same feeling which, in the Gospel narratives themselves, is 
expressed in the almost entire absence of precision as to time 
and place, in the emphatic separation of our Lord from his 
kinsmen after the flesh, even from his mother herself, in 
his own solemn warning, " What and if ye shall see the Son 
of man ascend up where he was before : the words that I 
speak unto you, they are spirit and they are life. It is the 
spirit that quickeneth, the flesh profiteth nothing." And this 
is the more observable when contrasted with the Apocryphal 
Gospels, which do to a great extent condescend to the natural 
or Judaic tendency, which the Gospels of the New Testament 
thus silently rebuke. There we find a " Gospel of the In 
fancy," filled with the fleshly marvels that delighted afterwards 
the childish minds of the Bedouin Arabs ; there first are 
mentioned the local traditions of the scene of the Annunciation, 
of the Nativity, of the abode in Egypt ; there is to be found 
the story, on which so great a superstructure has been built in 
later ages, of the parents and birth of her whom the Gospel 
history calls " blessed," but studiously conceals from view.* 
The Apostle s reserve no doubt was strengthened by liis 

* See " Evangelia Apocrypha" (cd. Tischendorf), pp. 1-11, 68, 79- 
81, 184, 191-201. 



antagonism with his Jewish opponents ; but the principle on 
which he acted is applicable to all times. It explains in what 
sense our Lord s life is an example, and in what sense it is 
not. That life is not, nor ever could be, an example to be 
literally and exactly copied. It has been so understood, on 
the one hand, even by such holy men as Francis of Assisi, 
who thought that the true " Imitation of Christ " was to re 
produce a fac-simile of all its outward circumstances in his own 
person. It has been so understood, on the other hand, by 
some in our own day, who have attacked it on the express 
ground that it could not, without impropriety, be literally re- 
enacted by any ordinary person in England in the nineteenth 
century. But it is not an example in detail ; and those who 
try to make it so, whether in defence or in attack, are but 
neglecting the warning which Bacon so beautifully gives on 
the story of the rich young man in the Gospels : " Beware 
how, in making the portraiture, thou breakest the pattern." * 
In this sense the Christian Church, as well as the Apostle, 
ought to " know Christ henceforth no more according to the 
flesh." All such considerations ought to be swallowed up in 
the overwhelming sense of the moral and spiritual state in 
which we stand towards Him. In this sense (if we may so 
say) He is more truly to us the Son of God than He is the 
Son of man. His life is our example, not in its outward 
acts, but in the spirit, the atmosphere which it breathes, in 
the ideal which it sets before us, in the principles, the mo 
tives, the object with which it supplies us. 

This brings us to yet one more reason why St. Paul s 
Epistles contain no further details of our Lord s ministry. It 
was because they were to him, and to his converts, super 
seded by an evidence to himself, and to them, far more con 
vincing than any particular proofs or facts could have for 
them, the evidence of his own life, of his own constant 
communion with Him in whom he lived, and moved, and had 
his being. He had, no doubt, his own peculiarities of charac 
ter, his own especial call to the Gentiles. Theso gave a turn 

* Bacon s Essays, Vol. I. p. 41. 


to his life, to his teaching, to his writings. These gave the 
Epistljs a character of their own, which will always distin 
guish them from the Gospels. But still the spirit which per 
vaded both alike was (to use his own words, often and often 
repeated) " of Christ," and " in Christ." " The life that he 
lived in the flesh, he lived in the faith of the Son of God, 
who died and gave himself for him." And this " faith," on 
which he dwells with an almost exclusive reverence, is not, it 
must he remembered, faith in any one part or point of Christ s 
work, but in the whole. " Faith in his Incarnation," " faith 
in his merits," " faith in his blood," are expressions which, 
1 hough employed in later times, and, like other scholastic or 
theological terms, often justly employed as summaries of the 
Apostle s statements, yet are, in no instance, his own state 
ments of his own belief or feeling.* Measured by the re 
quirement which demands these precise forms of speech from 
the lips of all believers, the Apostle no less than the Evan 
gelists will be found wanting. The one grand expression, in 
which his whole mind finds vent, is simply " the faith of 
Christ." It is, as it were, his second conscience ; and, as men 
do not minutely analyze the constituent elements of conscience, 
so neither did he care minutely to describe or bring forward 
the several elements which made up the character and work 
of his Master. And though these elements are distinctly set 
forth in the Gospels, yet the Gospels agree even here with 
the Epistles, in that they, like the Epistles, put forward not 
any one part, but the complex whole, as the object of adora 
tion and faith. The language of our Lord in the Gospels, 
like that of St. Paul regarding him in the Epistles, is (not 
" Believe in my miracles," " Believe in my death," " Believe 
in my resurrection," but) " Believe in me" 

Finally, if it be said that this is an impression too vague 
and impalpable to be definitely traced, the answer is in the 
Apostle s character. Much there was doubtless peculiar to 
himself, much that was peculiar to his own especial mission. 
But, if in any human character we can discern the effect pro- 

* The apparent exception in Rom. ill. 25 is, it need hardly be ob 
served to those acquainted with the original language, only apparent. 


duced by contact with another higher and greater than itself, 
such an effect may be discovered in that of St. Paul : " The 
love of Christ," * the love which Christ had shown to man, 
was, as he himself tells us, his " constraining " motive. That 
love, with the acts in which it displayed itself, was the groat 
event which rose up behind him as the background of his life ; 
as the single point from which all his thoughts diverged in the 
past, and to which they converged again in the future. Unless 
a love, surpassing all love, had been manifested to him, we 
know not how he could have been so constrained ; and, we 
must also add, unless a freedom from his past prejudices and 
passions had been effected for him, by the sight of some high 
er freedom than his own, we know not how he could have 
been thus emancipated. 

Such a love, and such a freedom, we find in St. Paul s 
Epistles. Such a combination rarely, if ever, seen before, 
rarely, alas ! seen since is one of the best proofs of the 
reality of the original acts in which that combination was 
first manifested. The Gospel narratives, as we now possess 
them, were, in all probability, composed long after these Epis 
tles. But the life which they describe must have been 
anterior. That life is " the glory," of which, as the Apostle 
himself says, his writings and actions are " the reflection." 
Whatever other diversities, peculiarities, infirmities, impass 
ably divide the character of the Apostle from that of his 
Master, in this union of fervor and freedom there was a com 
mon likeness which cannot be mistaken. The general im 
pulses of his new life " the grace of God, by which he was 
what he was" could have come from no other source. 
Whatever may be the force of the particular allusions and 
passages which have been collected, the general effect of his 
whole life and writings can hardly leave any other impression 
than that whether by " revelation," or by " receiving " 
from others, whether " in the body, or out of the body," f we 
cannot tell he had indeed seen, and known, and loved, and 
followed Jesus Christ our Lord. 

* 4 Cor. v. 14. t Gal. i. 12 ; 1 Cor. xi. 23 -xv. 3 ; 2 Cor. xii. 3. 


1 Cor. xiv. 26 - 40. 

IT may be important, at the close of this Section, contain 
ing, as it does, the Apostle s final advice on Christian worship, 
to sum up all that this Papistic, combined with the other notices 
in the New Testament, has presented to us on this subject. 

First. The Christian assemblies of the Apostolical age, un 
like those of later times, appear not to have been necessarily 
controlled by any fixed order of presiding ministers. We 
hear, indeed, of " presbyters," or "elders," in the churches of 
Asia Minor,* and of Jerusalein-t And in the church of 
Thessalonica mention is made of "rulers" (irpo i(TTap.(i>ovg 
; J and, in the churches of Galatia, of " teachers " (TG> 
Ci/ri). As the object is here only to give the state 
of the Church at the time of these Epistles to Corinth, no 
notice need be taken of the allusions in Epistles of a later 
date. But no allusion is to be found to the connection of 
these ministers or officers, if so they are to be called, with the 
worship of the Apostolic Church, and the omission, of any 
such is an almost decisive proof that no such connection was 
then deemed necessary. Had the Christian society at Corinth 
been what it was at the time when Clement addressed his 
Epistle to it, or what that at Ephesus is implied to have been 

* Acts xiv. 23. t Acts xi. 30 ; xv. 6, 22, 23. 

J 1 Thcss. v. 12. $ Gal. vi. 6. 



in the Ignatian Epistles, it is almost inevitable that some 
reference should have been made by the Apostle to the pre 
siding government which was to control the ebullitions of 
sectarian or fanatical enthusiasm ; that he should have spoken 
of the presbyters, whose functions were infringed upon by 
the prophets and speakers with tongues, or whose authority 
would naturally moderate and restrain their excesses. Noth 
ing of the kind is to be found. The gifts are to be regulated 
by mutual accommodation, by general considerations of order 
and usefulness ; and the only rights, against the violation of 
which any safeguards are imposed, are those of the congre 
gation, lest " he that fills the place of the unlearned " (that is, 
as we have already seen, " he that has not the gift of speak 
ing with tongues ") should be debarred from ratifying by his 
solemn Amen the thanksgiving of the speaker. The gifts 
are not, indeed, supposed to be equally distributed, but every 
one is pronounced capable of having some gift, and it is im 
plied as a possibility that " all " may have the gift of prophe 
sying or of speaking with tongues. 

Secondly. Through the gifts thus distributed, the worship 
was carried on. Four points are specially mentioned : 

(1.) Prayer. This, from the manner in which it is spoken 
of, in connection with the tongues, must have been a free out 
pouring of individual devotion, and one in which women were 
accustomed to join, as well as men.* 

(2.) What has been said of prayer may be said also of 
Praise or Song, ^aX/ady.f We may infer from Eph. v. 19, 
where it is coupled with " hymns and odes" (vpvois /cat wSaTs), 
that it must have been of the nature of metre or rhythm, and 
is thus the first recognition of Christian, poetry. The Apoc 
alypse is the nearest exemplification of it in the New Testa 

(3.) Closely connected with this, both in itself and by the 
context, is Thanksgiving. The " song of the understanding " 
is specially needed in the giving of thanks. J In this passage 

* xiv. 13-15; xi. 5. t xiv. 15, 26. J xiv. 16. 


we have the earliest intimation of a liturgical form. Although 
the context even here implies that it must have been a free 
effusion, yet it is probable that the Apostle is speaking of the 
Eucharistic thanksgiving for the produce of the earth ; such 
as was from a very early period incorporated in the great 
Eucharistic hymn used, jsvith a few modifications, through all 
the liturgical forms of the later Christian Church. And from 
this passage we learn that the " Amen," or ratification of the 
whole congregation, afterwards regarded with peculiar so 
lemnity in this part of the service, was deemed essential to 
the due utterance of the thanksgiving. 

(4.) " Prophesying," or " teaching," is regarded (not by the 
Corinthians, but) by the Apostle as one of the most impor 
tant objects of their assemblies. The impulse to exercise this 
gift appears to have been so strong as to render it difficult to 
be kept under control.* Women, it would seem from the 
Apostle s allusion to the practice in xi. 5, and prohibition of it 
in xiv. 34, 35, had felt themselves entitled to speak. The 
Apostle rests his prohibition on the general ground of the 
subordination of women to their natural instructors, their 

Thirdly. The Apostolical mode of administering the Eu 
charist has already been delineated at the close of chap. xi. 
It is enough here to recapitulate its main features. It was 
part of the chief daily meal, and, as such, usually in the 
evening ; the bread and wine were brought by the contribu 
tors to the meal, and placed on a table ; of this meal each one 
partook himself; the bread was placed on the table as a loaf, 
and then broken into parts ; the wine was given at the con 
clusion of the meal ; a hymn of thanksgiving was offered by 
one of the congregation, to which the rest responded with the 
solemn word " Amen." 

These points are all that we can clearly discern in the 
worship of Apostolic times, with the addition perhaps of the 
fact mentioned in Acts xx. 7, and confirmed by 1 Cor. xvi. 2, 

* xiv. 32 


that the first day of the week was specially devoted to their 

The total dissimilarity between the outward aspects of this 
worship and of any which now exists, is the first impression 
which this summary leaves on the mind. It would seem at 
first sight as if almost every vestige of the Apostolic forms 
was gone, and as if the present forms had no basis in that 
age on which to ground themselves. But this impression is 
relieved by various important considerations. First, when 
we consider the state of the Apostolic Church as described in 
the Acts and in this Epistle, it is evident that in outward cir 
cumstances it never could be a pattern for future times. The 
fervor of the individuals who constituted the communities, the 
smallness of the communities themselves, the variety and 
power of the gifts, the expectation of the near approach of 
the end of the world, must have prevented the perpetuation 
of the Apostolic forms. But if Christianity be, as almost 
every precept of its Founder and of its chief Apostle pre 
sumes it to be, a religion of the spirit, and not of the letter, 
then this very peculiarity is one of its most characteristic 
privileges. No existing form of worship can lay claim to 
universal and eternal obligation, as directly traceable to Apos 
tolic times. The impossibility of perpetuating the primitive 
forms is the best guarantee for future freedom and progress. 
Few as are the rules of .worship prescribed in the Koran, yet 
the inconvenience which they present, when transplanted 
into other than Oriental regions, shows the importance of the 
omission of such in the New Testament. 

But, secondly, there are in the forms themselves, and in 
the spirit in which the Apostle handles them, principles im 
portant for the guidance of Christian worship in all times. 
Some of these have been already indicated. In this last con 
cluding Section, the whole of this advice is summed up in 
two simple rules : " Let all things be done unto edifying," and 
" let all things be done decently and in order." 

" Let all things be done unto edifying." 

"Edifying" (oi/coSo/xry) has, as already noticed in xiv. 3, 


the peculiar sense both of building up from first principles to 
their practical application, and of fitting each member of the 
society into the proper place which the growth and rise of the 
whole building require. It is " development," not only in 
the sense of unfolding new truth, but of unfolding all the 
resources contained in the existing institution or body. Hence 
the stress laid on the excellence of "prophesying," as the 
special gift by which men were led to know themselves (as 
in xiv. 24, 25, " the secrets of their hearts being made mani 
fest"), and by which (as through the prophets of the older 
dispensations) higher and more spiritual views of life were 
gradually revealed. Hence the repeated injunctions that 
all the gifts should have their proper honor;* that those 
gifts should be most honored by which not a few, but all, 
should benefit;! that all who had the gift of prophecy 
should have the opportunity of exercising that gift ; J that all 
might have an equal chance of instruction and comfort for 
their own special cases. 

" Let all things be done decently and in order" 
" Decently " (* i/o-x^oW) ; that is, so as not to interrupt the 
gravity and dignity of the assemblies. "In order" (KOTO. 
rdiv) ; that is, not by hazard or impulse, but by design and 
arrangement. The idea is not so much of any beauty or 
succession of parts in the worship, as of that severe and 
simple majesty which in the ancient world, whether Pagan or 
Jewish, seems to have characterized all solemn assemblies, 
civil or ecclesiastical, as distinct from the frantic or enthu 
siastic ceremonies which accompanied illicit or extravagant 
communities. The Roman Senate, the Athenian Areopagus, 
were examples of the former, as the wild Bacchanalian or 
Phrygian orgies were of the latter. It is to impress this 
character on Christian worship, that the Apostle has con 
demned the rejection by the women of the Greek custom of 
the veil, || the speaking of women in the assemblies,^ the in- 

* xii. 20 - 30. t xiv. 1-23. t xiv. 29 - 31, 

t xiv. 40. II xi. 1. -16. T xix. 34. 


discriminate banqueting at the Lord s Supper,* the interrup 
tion of-the prophets by each other, f " The spirits of prophets 
are subject to prophets," is a principle of universal applica 
tion, and condemns every impulse of religious zeal or feeling 
which is not strictly under the control of those who display 
it . A world of fanaticism is exploded by this simple axiom ; 
and to those who have witnessed the religious frenzy which 
attaches itself to the various forms of Eastern worship, this 
advice of the Apostle, himself of Eastern origin, will appear 
the more remarkable. The wild gambols, yearly celebrated 
at Easter by the adherents of the Greek Church round the 
chapel of the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem, show what 
Eastern Christianity may become ; they are living proofs of 
the need and the wisdom of the Apostolical precept. 

To examine how far these two regulations have actually 
affected the subsequent worship and ritual of Christianity, to 
measure each Christian liturgy and form of worship by one 
or other of these two rules, would be an instructive task. 
But it is sufficient here to notice, that on these two points 
tha Anostle throws the whole weight of his authority ; these 
two, Mid these only, are the Rubrics of the Primitive Church. 

* xi. 16-34. txiv.30-32. 


1 Cor. xi. 16-34. 

IT has been truly said, though with some exaggeration, that 
for many centuries the history of the Eucharist might be con 
sidered as a history of the Christian Church. And certainly 
this passage may be regarded as occupying in that history, 
whether in its narrower or larger sphere, a point of remarkable 
significance. On the one hand, we may take our stand upon 
it, and look back through its medium, on some of the institu 
tions and feelings most peculiar to the first commencement of 
the Apostolic age. We see the most sacred ordinance of the 
Christian religion as it was celebrated by those in whose 
minds the earthly and the heavenly, the social and the relig 
ious aspect of life were indistinguishably blended. We see 
the banquet spread in the late evening, after the sun had set 
behind the western ridge of the hills of Achaia ; we see the 
many torches * blazing, as at Troas, to light up the darkness 
of the upper room, where, as was their wont, the Christian 
community assembled ; we see the couches laid and the walls 
hung,f after the manner of the East, as on the night of the 
betrayal ; we see I the sacred loaf, representing, in its com 
pact unity, the harmony of the whole society ; we hear the 
blessing or thanksgiving on the cup responded to by the 
joint " Amen," such as even three centuries later is described 
as like a peal of thunder ; we witness tlie complete realiza- 

, Matt, xxvi 

* Aa/btTrdSes iKavai, Acts xx. 8. t virepuov 
| I Cor. x. 17; xi. 29. $ x, 31- 


tion, in outward form, of the Apostle s words, suggested 
doubtless by the sight of the meal and the sacrament blended 
thus together, " Whether ye eat or drink, or whatsoever ye 
do, do all to the glory of God." * " Whatsoever ye do in 
word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving 
thanks to God and the Father by him." f 

This is one side of the picture ; but there is another side, 
which is exhibited here also, and which imparts to this 
passage its peculiar interest. Already the difficulties of 
bringing an ideal and an actual life together make themselves 
felt. What the falsehoods of Ananias and Sapphira were to 
the community of property at Jerusalem, that the excesses 
and disorders of the Corinthian Christians were to the primi 
tive celebration of the Eucharist. The time was come, when 
the secular and the spiritual had to be disentangled one from 
the other ; the " simplicity " and " gladness " of the first Apos 
tolical communion was gradually to retire before the Apos 
tolical rebuke. The question arose whether the majesty, the 
tenderness, the awe of the feast should be lost in a senseless 
orgy, and it is (humanly speaking) by means of this verdict 
of the Apostle against the Corinthian church, that the form 
of the primitive practice was altered, in order to save the 
spirit of the original institution. It is of the more impor 
tance to remember the extent of the danger to which the 
celebration of the Eucharist was then exposed ; because a 
great part of its subsequent history would seem to be a 
reaction, in part just, in part exaggerated, against the corrup 
tion which then threatened it ; a reaction encouraged by the 
extreme severity with which that corruption is denounced by 

* Col. iii. 17. 

t Perhaps the nearest likeness now existing, to this union of social 
intercourse with religious worship, is to be found in the services of the 
Coptic Church. The Eucharist indeed is even more divested of its char 
acter of a supper, than in the Western Churches. But there is an air of 
primitive freedom, and of innocent enjoyment, blended witli the prayers 
of the general service, which, bearing as it does the marks of long an 
tiquity, conveyed to me, on the one occasion on which I witnessed the 
worship of the Copts in their cathedral at Cairo, a livelier image of the 
early Christian assemblies than anything else I ever saw. 


the Apostle, and which was itself called forth by the great 
ness of the crisis. This is the last mention of the adminis 
tration of the Lord s Supper, according to the ancient fashion; 
the "Supper" itself had ceased to be a supper, as early as 
the beginning of the first century, as we learn from the 
Epistles of the younger Pliny ; * and was celebrated, if not 
very early in the morning, at least before the night, although 
in some Egyptian cities the practice of partaking of it on the 
evenings of Saturday still continued in the fourth century.f 
The social meal was divided from it under the name of 
" Agape," or " Love-feast," but still continued to be cele 
brated within the walls of churches as late as the fifth cen 
tury, after which it disappears, having been already con 
demned by councils on account of abuses similar to those 
here described at Corinth. J Thus the Eucharist became 
more and more set apart as a distinct sacred ordinance ; it 
withdrew more and more from the possibility of the Corin 
thian desecration, till at last it was wrapt up in the awful 
mystery which has attached to it, in the highest degree, in 
the churches of the East, but in some degree in the churches 
of the West also, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. 
Beginning under the simple name of " the breaking of bread," 
and known from this Epistle by the social and almost festive 
appellations of " the Communion," and " the Lord s Supper," 
it first receives in Pliny the name of " Sacramentum," and in 
Justin Martyr that of " Eucharistia " ; both, indeed, indicating 
ideas of strictly Apostolical origin, though more closely con 
nected with the words, and less with the act, than would have 
been the case in the first Apostolical times ; till in the days 
of Chrysostom it presents itself to us under the formidable 
name of the " Dreadful Sacrifice." 

These two views of the Lord s Supper have been thus 
set forth in this place side by side ; because, as has been 
said, they both to a certain extent appear together in this 
chapter. A careful investigation of the passage will prob- 

* X. 97. t Sozomen, A. E. vii. 19 

J Bingham s Antiquities, Book XV. ch. 7. 


ably lead to the conclusion, that as, on the one hand, the 
general view of the Apostolical practice, its simplicity, and 
its festivity, as implied in the Apostle s arguments, and in 
his designation of the ordinance, have been in later times 
too much underrated ; so, on the other hand, the severity 
of his denunciation against unworthy partakers has been too 
generally and too rigorously enforced; because the partic 
ular object, and the particular need of his rebuke at that 
time, have not been clearly understood. The Holy Com 
munion can never be again exactly what it was then ; and 
therefore, although his words will always impart to the great 
ordinance of Christian worship a peculiar solemnity, yet 
the real lesson which they convey relates now more di 
rectly to such general occasions as that out of which his 
warning grew, than to the ordinance itself. The joy and 
almost merriment of the first Christian converts after the 
day of Pentecost could not now be applied to the Eucha 
rist as it was then, without fear of great profaneness and 
levity. But the record of it implies that with a serious and 
religious life generally there is nothing incompatible in the 
freest play of cheerful and innocent gayety. In like manner, 
although we cannot without superstition imagine that the 
judgments which the Apostle denounced will fall on a dese 
cration of the Communion different in all its circumstances 
from that which occurred at Corinth, yet there may still 
be an irreverence towards sacred things, a want of broth 
erly kindness, a dulness in discerning the presence of Christ, 
even in our common meals, which may make us fear " lest 
we eat and drink condemnation to ourselves." And in the 
Communion itself the Apostle s words are instructive, as 
reminding us that " the body of the Lord," to which he 
looked, was, as elsewhere in his writings, so here, the body 
which is represented by the whole Christian society. So 
the Apostle conceives it to be in all times and places, and 
not least in the institution especially intended to exhibit the 
unity and community of interests, feelings, and affections, to 
produce which is always described as one chief purpose of 
the Death of Christ, shown forth in the Lord s Supper. 


1 Cor. ch. xii. 

TIIE historical value of this chapter has been sufficiently 
set forth in the notes. It is the most detailed contemporary 
record of the extraordinary powers which manifested them 
selves in the Christian society during the first century ; and 
which, however they may be explained, confirm the narra 
tive in the Acts of the Apostles, and illustrate that in the 
four Gospels, especially the statement in Mark xvi. 17-20: 
" They went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord work 
ing with them, and confirming the word with signs following" ; 
that is, " casting out devils, speaking with tongues, taking up 
serpents, drinking poison without hurt, and laying hands on 
the sick for their recovery." They resolve themselves into 
two classes : (1.) Those which relate to healing exactly cor 
respond with the description of the miracles of Peter and 
John,* and with the allusion in James v. 14, 15: "Is any 
sick among you ? let him call for the elders of the church ; 
and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the 
name of the Lord : and the prayer of faith shall save the 
sick, and the Lord shall raise him up/ (2.) The gifts of 
teaching which are here classed under the names of " proph 
ets," " teachers," " knowledge," "wisdom." are implied rather 
than expressly claimed in the authority which the narrative 

* Acts iii. 1 - 10 ; v. 12 - 16 ; i*. 33 - 42. 


of the Acts ascribes to the numerous speeches of the Apos 
tles. But to gifts of this kind allusions are expressly made 
in the intimations in Matt. x. 20, John xvi. 13, of " the Spirit 
speaking in the disciples," and " guiding them into all truth." 
And to the same effect are the passages in Rom. xii. 6 - 8 : 
" Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is 
given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to 
the proportion of faith ; .... or he that teacheth, let him 
wait on teaching, or he that exhorteth, on exhortation." Eph. 

iv. 7, 1 1 : " Unto every one of us is given grace He 

gave some, apostles ; and some, prophets ; and some, evan 
gelists; and some, pastors and teachers." 1 Pet. iv. 10, 11: 
" As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the 

same one to another If any man speak, as the oracles 

of God." The Apostle seems to claim this gift for himself, 
both by implication in all his Epistles, and expressly in 1 Cor. 
vii. 40 : "I think that I also (i. e. as well as others) have the 
Spirit of God." Of the special gifts of prophesying, and of 
speaking with tongues, there will be another occasion to speak 
in considering the fourteenth chapter. It is in the highest 
development of these various forms of the gift of teaching, 
that we find the only direct traces of what in modern lan 
guage is called " inspiration " ; and although the limits of such 
a gift, and the persons in whom it existed, are never clearly 
defined, the description of it is important, because, unlike the 
other gifts, its results can still be appreciated. We cannot 
judge of the gifts of healing; their effects have long since 
passed away. But we can judge of the gift of teaching by 
the remains which it has left in the writings of the New Tes 
tament ; and these remains incontestably prove that there 
was at that time given to men an extraordinary insight into 
truth, and an extraordinary power of communicating it. 

It is important to observe, that these multiplied allusions 
imply a state of things in the Apostolical age, which has 
certainly not been seen since. On particular occasions, in 
deed, both in the first four centuries, and afterwards in the 
Middle Ages, miracles are ascribed by contemporary writers 


to the influence or the relics of particular individuals but 
there has been no occasion when they have been so emphati 
cally ascribed to whole societies, so closely mixed up with the 
ordinary course of life. It is not maintained that every mem 
ber of the Corinthian church had all or the greater part of 
those gifts, but it certainly appears that every one had some 
gift ; and this being the case, we are enabled to realize the 
total difference of the organization of the Apostolical Church 
from any through which it has passed in its later stages. It 
was still in a state of fusion. Every part of the new society 
was instinct with a life of its own. The whole atmosphere 
which it breathed must have confirmed the belief in the im 
portance and the novelty of the crisis. 

But yet more remarkable, both as a proof of the Divine 
power and wisdom which accompanied this whole manifesta 
tion, and also as affording a lesson to after times, is the man 
ner in which the Apostle approaches the subject, and the 
inference which he draws from it. His object in enumerat 
ing these gifts is, not to enlarge on their importance, or to 
appeal to them as evidences of the Christian faith ; it is to 
urge upon his readers the necessity of co-operation for some 
useful purpose. Such a thought at such a moment is emi 
nently characteristic of the soberness and calmness which 
pervade the Apostle s writings, and affords a striking contrast 
to the fanatical feeling which regards all miracles as ends and 
not a? means ; and which despises, as alien and uncongenial, 
the ideas of co-operation, subordination, and order. 

This chapter has a yet further interest. It is the intro 
duction of a new idea into the Sacred Volume. It has been 
truly observed, that the great glory of the Mosaic covenant 
was, not so much the revelation of a truth before unknown, 
as the communication of that truth to a whole people, the 
first and only exception which the Eastern world presented to 
the spirit of caste and exclusion. But even in the chosen 
people this universal sympathy with each other, and with the 
common objects of the nation, ran hardly be said to have 
been fulfilled as it was intended. 



The idea of a whole community, swayed by a .common 
feeling of interest and affection, was not Asiatic, but Euro 
pean. It was Greece, and not Judaea, which first presented 
the sight of a n6\is or state, in which every citizen had his 
own political and social duties, and lived, not for himself, but 
for the state. It was a Roman fable, and not an Eastern 
parable, which gave to the world the image of a " body 
politic," in which the welfare of each member depended on 
the welfare of the rest. And it is precisely this thought 
which, whether in conscious or unconscious imitation, was 
suggested to the Apostle, by the sight of the manifold and 
various gifts of the Christian community. 

The image of the Christian Church, which the Apostle 
here exhibits, is that of a living society in which the various 
faculties of the various members were to perform their sev 
eral parts, not an inert mass of mere learners and subjects, 
who were to be authoritatively taught and ruled by one small 
portion of its members. It is a Christianization, not of the 
Levitical hierarchy, but of the republic of Plato. It has